But it’s not just your friends who will reap the ben­e­fits of your grat­i­tude. This 2006 study by Monica Y. Bartlett and David DeSteno at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity shows that the com­pas­sion inspired by grat­i­tude reaches out­side a person’s social circle, extending to strangers.

If you’re feeling grat­i­tude, you’re more likely not only to help a pre­vious bene­factor, but also to help anyone who asks,” Dr. DeSteno says. “You’re also more likely to trust others and to make finan­cial deci­sions that ben­efit everyone as opposed to ben­e­fit­ting your­self at the expense of others.”

And you’ll feel great doing it! Research shows that the act of giving back is as plea­sur­able, if not more so, as the expe­ri­ence of receiving, and vol­un­teering can be linked to greater mental health, better immu­nity, and even longer life spans.

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