November 2018

Why Develop an Attitude of Gratitude?

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Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to acknowledging the many reasons for us to be grateful. What if we extended the spirit of that holiday to that of a season … or to a perpetual mindset in our dealings with family, friends, co-workers … and everyone we interact with?

Many self improvement principles are based on the premise “We become what we think about most,” which may underlie the sum of so many life experiences. So if thoughts trigger actions, demonstrating gratitude must have payoffs for each of us, and those we serve – and those who serve us.

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The findings of researchers on the topic of gratitude support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being. Gratitude can improve relationships between spouses by triggering more mutually positive feelings and comfort in expressing concerns and appreciation about their relationship.

Managers who remember to say ”thank you” to people who work for them typically find that those employees feel motivated to work harder and more effectively.

Amy Morin is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. In an article she wrote for Psychology Today she expands on 7 scientifically proven benefits to developing an “attitude of gratitude”. Read a summary below and learn that not only is saying “thank you” good manners, but also…

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships, and stronger relationships

  2. Gratitude improves physical health.  Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people…

  3. Gratitude improves psychological health.  Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret.

  4. Gratitude enhances empathy.  Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kindly...

  5. Grateful people sleep better. Editor’s note: Bing Crosby sang to & lovingly advised Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas to “count your blessings instead of sheep…”

  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money, perceived better jobs, greater status, etc. — potential factors in reduced self-esteem — grateful people are more able to appreciate and help celebrate other people’s accomplishments.

  7. Gratitude increases mental strength. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for — even during the worst times — fosters resilience.

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How to Get There

So given all these pluses, how can we cultivate – and enjoy - a growing sense of gratitude?

Research psychologists point to two tools – a gratitude journal (think, The Grateful Box) and thank-you notes. Taking advantage of these tools can certainly help enrich our lives.

Research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal and regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful will significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

Before turning in for the night, write down positive things that happened during the day. The act of acknowledging the beneficial things we experienced, those who helped us, as well as those we helped, makes us better at recognizing and embracing the good in our lives. This partial “gratitude list” from business colleagues is worth a look:

  • Our Creator

  • Our family with their unconditional love

  • Close friends whose thoughtfulness can be so easily taken for granted

  • Our country, with its freedom and abundant opportunities

  • Our armed forces, and the men and women who serve … past and present

  • Our first responders

  • Our work teammates, bosses and employers

  • “Life’s little dividends” - Gratitude shouldn’t be reserved only for momentous occasions like a promotion. There is cause for thanks for something as simple as good weather, kids tidying up their rooms, a kind word to or from a stranger…

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Summary

Gratitude helps explain why Thanksgiving scores so high among American holidays. According to a Harris Poll, it’s topped only by Christmas.

And thanks to Stacey Grewal, the joy of Thanksgiving Day has been extended to include the month of November. The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed November … National Gratitude Month.

Being mindful of the positives in our lives is a training ground to be progressively more grateful with the accompanying boost in happiness it brings. Here’s evidence from researchers at Eastern Washington University who identified four primary characteristics of grateful people and the positive effects on their lives.

People who experience the most gratitude tend to:

  • Feel a sense of abundance in their lives

  • Appreciate the contributions of others to their well-being

  • Recognize and enjoy life’s small pleasures

  • Acknowledge the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude

We welcome your thoughts and personal experiences on this topic, and the opportunity to share them in one of our next Grateful Buzz newsletters.

In closing … “Thank you!”

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
— Roman philosopher, Cicero