Experiment No. 23: Gratitude

Blog Post
April 10, 2020

The Basics

We’re Trying to Solve: Raise the awareness of unpaid labor for couples and families
Target Audience: Couples, families, housemates, everyone
Ages: All ages
Category: Household chores
Estimated Time: 1 - 10 minutes 
Difficulty Level: Easy

We know, now is not the time for you to take on major, emotionally difficult conversations at home. That’s okay! But the question of who does what and who should do what is probably coming up organically as the lines between work and life have blurred in such an unprecedented way. This experiment just might take some of the angst and defensiveness out of those conversations, and lighten the overall tone around housework and childcare. 

Research shows that people who take time to express gratitude for what they have are happier and less likely to be depressed. And hearing gratitude from others can be just as powerful! It can impact not only the person who is being thanked but others who might just have heard the exchange. 

To survive and even thrive during this stressful time, psychologists suggest slowing down, being kind, and showing compassion. Last week, we asked you to slow down, take a breath, and “Just Notice” what’s going on around you at home. This week, we encourage you to work on one more behavioral change. Any time you notice something someone else is doing to care for or contribute to the household, thank them! Then, watch what kind of impact it has. 


  1. When you notice someone in your family or household doing something to contribute to the greater functioning of the household, remember to say “thank you.” Do this even if they’re doing a chore you asked them to do or even if you’re stressed out and feeling like they’re doing less than they should be. Start with a “thank you,” and save the rest for another, later conversation.
  2. Be very clear about the source of your gratitude, so it’s sincere and heartfelt. Tell them specifically what you’re thanking them for, and if you can, consider telling them why you’re grateful for what they’ve done. For instance, when you see your partner empty the dishwasher, instead of just saying, “Thank you,” add a bit more detail. “Thank you for emptying the dishwasher. It makes my job of loading the dirty dishes so much easier after dinner.”
  3. Then, as you commit to saying thank you more often for others’ contributions, just listen and watch to see whether it seems to have an impact on the house as a whole. They might begin to thank you for what you do. They might do even more to contribute. Perhaps the household is calmer or has a greater sense of teamwork. 
  4. Lastly, after trying this for a week, check-in with how it felt for you. Did giving thanks make you happier? Did it increase your awareness of what others are doing? How do you feel? Do you want to continue to express your gratitude?

Connect With the Better Life Lab

Are you going to try this week’s experiment? Do you have a story about how you and your own family solved a problem with the work at home? Is there a specific challenge you’ve been trying to tackle? Can this experiment be improved? Please let us know via this form, at bllx@newamerica.org, or in our Facebook group for BLLx Beta Testers.

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