Last night’s Oscars was, as per usual, up and down. There were some highlights (I could watch Harrison Ford picking out a piece of pizza until the end of time) and some truly boring moments (that bit about animated heroes made no sense, whatsoever) but there were a few transcendent moments, including Matthew McConaughey’s rambling, amazing acceptance speech for his role in True Detective – err, Dallas Buyer’s Club.
During his speech, McConaughey thanked God (and got, according to my listen, exactly two “woo!”s from the obviously very religious Hollywood crowd) and said that “He…has shown me that it’s a scientific fact that gratitude reciprocates.”
Now, before you dismiss that – and everything else he said – as self-important Hollywood wanking, turns out he’s actually 100% correct.
Chris Mooney, a correspondent for Mother Jones, has looked into the research and found that:
Feeling gratitude helps bind us to our groups and communities and enhances social relationships. And it isn’t just humans: Primatologist Frans de Waal has observed behaviors that look a heck of a lot like gratitude in chimpanzees, who are more likely to share food with other chimps who have recently groomed them.
Hey, I know when anyone picks away my lice on the train to Brookyln, I’m definitely more likely to give them a bite of my breakfast burrito.
Being grateful and manifesting that gratefulness towards others might not eventually earn you an Oscar, but it can pay off in other ways:
The research suggests more hope and optimism, a better ability to manage stress, a tendency to exercise more and even sleeping better. And while not all of us are as naturally adept at feeling grateful, the research also suggests there are interventions you can do to turn your life on a more thankful path: Simply writing down the things you’re thankful for, on a regular basis, seems to bring on these benefits.
First and foremost of things on my list that I’m thankful for? That I’ll never need to hear that terrible song from “Frozen” again.
So there you go, Matthew McConaughey has not only transformed into a great actor, but his words are also backed by science. And here we thought this was his greatest bit of wisdom: