Recently, someone asked me what I think is the most powerful well-being practice for people to use. Very quickly I responded GRATITUDE. What is the Power of Gratitude?
Those who practice gratitude daily either as an integrated experience of how they look at life or a more structured practice have better physical and mental health. As Karen Reivich from University of Pennsylvania says, studies on gratitude show that “this is a case of science catching up with grandma.” As many elders have said, counting your blessings and paying attention to the good around you does make life better.
- Just asking “What am I grateful for right now?” leads to the release more dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that are associated with elevating our mood.
- People who practice gratitude tend to sleep better. Noticing what you are grateful for prior to falling asleep is a way to calm you by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, the one associated with “rest and digest.”
- People who express gratitude have stronger relationships. Stands to reason that as you acknowledge and express sincere appreciation you are sharing something about yourself, as well as letting the other person know that you see her/him.
- Gratitude increases helping behavior for the task and person at hand, and even beyond. There is an overflow of helping which is a sort of Pay it Forward effect.
- Gratitude is associated with hope and contentment. For those of us who have concerns about not being or having enough, gratitude is a way to acknowledge that there is enough and we are enough.
How can you get some of these benefits? The expression of gratitude is not always easy and it is clearly worthwhile.
- 3Ws – What Went Well in the last 24 hours? This is a good place to start. Note down 3 things that went well and then a sentence or two of reflection. As you get more experience with this, you can even look for the good within challenging situations; this has a calming effect.
- Write and send a thank you note to others several times a week. Who is contributing to your success at work now? Who has shaped or supported you over the years? Who do you appreciate just for who the person is?
- Take photos of what you enjoy and share them with others.
- Make a daily ritual of appreciating in 3 different areas – for example, nature, people in your life, something about yourself, something about your home, an aspect of work.
What do you appreciate right now?
In order to experience the benefits of gratitude, you must sustain your expressions of gratitude. This is not a one and done event. As you practice gratitude you will naturally integrate it into your life and begin to think about what you appreciate in the moment. It also becomes easier to share your appreciative thoughts.
What’s your experience with the power of gratitude? What to you do to maintain the power of gratitude?
To get in touch with what you appreciate and regain your passion and energy, contact me.
Improving well-being for healthcare professionals through coaching.
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