But when it comes to saying thank you to those who have had a more permanent presence in our lives, we're not as likely to step up. As Business Insider's Shana Lebowitz reported, 97% of survey respondents said they thank restaurant waiters, but less than half of women in the survey said they regularly thank their husbands.
Why not? According to recent research, we might be too tied up in our own fears and assumptions to send thank-you notes to the people who have helped us most.
Amit Kumar at the University of Texas at Austin and Nicholas Epley at Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago enlisted hundreds of participants, or "expressers", to write thank-you notes. The expressers wrote to people who have influenced their lives in meaningful ways, detailing what the person had done and how it helped them.
The expressers were asked to predict how the recipient would feel about the note — their discomfort, surprise, and happiness.
Then, the researchers asked those recipients how they actually felt. The differences were remarkable.
"Expressers significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel," the researchers wrote.
By not understanding that saying thank-you is almost always a strongly positive choice, Kumar and Epley wrote, we're avoiding the actions that would benefit ourselves and others.
Other research, meanwhile, has suggested that expressing our gratitude is highly beneficial. A 2010 study said everyday gratitude acts as a relationship "booster shot", making the expresser and the recipient feel better about the relationship.
And it's not just our friends, romantic partners, coworkers, family members, or Uber driver we need to thank. We also need to express gratitude to ourselves, Lebowitz reported from "The Gratitude Diaries," a book about gratitude by Janice Kaplan.
"When you give yourself that positive boost," Kaplan previously told Business Insider, "it does help you move forward and does help you do better in the future."
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