This is the season of the pumpkin spice latte. This is the season of holiday music playing repeatedly in every store and on every radio station. It is the season of gift giving, hot apple cider, fireside cuddles, apple pie and family reunions. But above all else, it is the season to reap the benefits of gratitude. It is a time to be grateful for what you have and to appreciate the people who have been a part of your happiness. Turns out it’s not only the things you have that actually make you happy, but the people who helped you get there that bring you joy. And if all that makes you smile, then showing gratitude will make you even happier.

The benefits of gratitude go way beyond scoring you brownie points with your boss or your old-fashioned grandmother. Giving thanks can actually make you happier. Research investigating the relationship between giving thanks and happiness found that “Those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.” So if you truly want to have a happy holiday season (and life, for that matter) you might want to start by saying thank you. Here are 12 benefits of gratitude.

1. Selflessness
There’s a difference between thinking, Thanks, I owe you one, and being truly grateful. If you feel indebted to someone else you may return the favor out of obligation, but that that won’t bring you happiness. If you are truly grateful, then you will want to do good for others simply because you feel happy and you want to make someone else happy as well.

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