This is the time of year that we think about the concept of naughty and nice.  We spend time putting more focus on others. We compile lists and ship gifts out to favored clients to acknowledge appreciation or their patronage the past year.  We also may have started conducting year-end reviews and work assessments.  The next step in that process is typically to assign bonuses as a reward for work well done.

Whether you are giving a check or something with a bow on top, the benefits go both to the recipient and you, the giver.  The fact is that before we disseminate cards and gifts, we have had to take time to consider just who means something to us. We have asked ourselves, how or why we appreciate this person and his or her contribution.

It turns out that this action of considering appreciation benefits the giver.   “Many Thanks”, a short article in Self Magazine highlights one of the main takeaways from a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology.  In the study people thought about some of the things that they find to be positive in their lives.  When they did this, thinking about “why they were thankful” for these people/influences, they “experienced a measureable increase in happiness”.

According to the study, gratitude exercises seem to fall into four categories that the study’s author, Philip Watkins, Ph.D., identifies as “(1) grateful recounting, (2) grateful reflection, (3) grateful expression, and (4) grateful reappraisal. It’s possible that nurturing the feeling of gratefulness increases the amount of time that you focus on the good and upbeat items in your life that can change your overall outlook.

The point is that the concept of gratitude behind these actions that display your appreciation don’t need to be limited to “the gift giving season”.  It turns out that a kind thought or written word has a positive outcome on both the recipient and the giver.  So get out there and make an impact!