Biggest surprise? "That this science existed. So many self-help ideas are like meringue—you take a big bite, and there's nothing there. What I discovered was the 'there.' One study from the University of California, Davis, actually quantified what happens when people are grateful. They really are more optimistic, more apt to help others, more joyful, and genuinely healthier. Related studies have found they're more resilient, less stressed, and better strategic thinkers. All because they focus on what's right in life."
Second biggest surprise? "Grateful people may recover faster from trauma. I interviewed a lot of men and women who have bounced back from calamity—a mountain lion attack, a horrific car crash. The common denominator is they all believe in the power of their mind to find relevance in their situation and make something better come of it."
How "thank you" changed her: "I now find magic in the mundane. It's kind of like when I got glasses as a kid: I could actually see the individual leaves on a tree. In the same way, thank you power has helped me recognize slivers of life that might have bypassed me before: my daughter's handstands, enjoying a view. I'm also more creative—better able to look beyond the obvious and come up with new story angles. Certainly the research shows that grateful people are more innovative thinkers."