How simple and continuous acts of gratitude have a big impact on our emotional, physical, social, personal and professional lives
“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” — Alfred North Whitehead
November is gratitude month. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Most of us take this time to think about the people, moments and things in our lives we are grateful for. Kids workshop their gratitude in school. Families gather around the table, reminiscing over good (and bad) times. We all give thanks. Then, a new year begins and life moves on. No more thanks giving. What if I told you we can all be happier and healthier if we hold on to simple acts of gratitude throughout the upcoming year? Well, that’s true! Researches have shown that continuous acts of gratitude have a real significant impact on our emotional, physical, social, personal and professional lives!
Gratitude strengthens our emotions: it helps to cope with stress, reduces feelings of envy, let us remember happier memories, and let us experience good emotions by always looking for the positive first.
Gratitude makes us healthier: emotions of appreciation induce relaxation responses, reduces depression, and decreases blood pressure. We feel less physical pain, spend more time exercising, and have more and better sleep.
Gratitude strengthens our relationships and makes us more likable: we become nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, and deepen our existing relationships.
Gratitude develops our personality: as an affirmation of goodness we have received from a source outside ourselves, practicing gratitude makes us more optimistic, less materialistic, more spiritual (not necessarily religious), less self-centered and with higher self-esteem.
Gratitude boosts our careers: honest, heartfelt praise influences good changes. It makes us feel good about ourselves and the work we do. It makes us more motivated, collaborative and creative. It increases our goal achievement. When a leader makes us feel good we enjoy working with one another, creating loyalty and promoting trust. It helps us network more and increase our productivity.
Gratitude is a learned behavior
It is true that some people are more innately grateful than others, but gratitude is a learned behavior. Let me repeat: gratitude is a learned behavior! And as with any learned behavior, it requires time, effort and patience: daily practice will flex that muscle!
There are many ways to exercise gratitude. Here is my daily practice:
- write 3 things I am grateful for (they must be different every day). I don’t overthink this, I look back at my day, at things and people that made me happy and fille my bucket. I also look at could have been worse, big or small, and write them down.
- I ask my kids to tell me at least one thing from school that they are grateful. And then another thing they are grateful for their lives (outside of school). Sometimes my ask goes “tell me something that happened today in school that was totally awesome”.
- I write a “thank you” note (text, email, voice message, notecard) to someone. Sometimes my thank you refers back to something that happened years ago. As I do this exercise I am also exercising my long-term memory muscle. People get so surprised to receive a note from me for something that happened years ago. Who does not like to be remembered years later? I do.
- Mindful walk: I go on daily walks (hikes when I can) and I always stop to admire a view, a flower, an animal, a cloud shape, a song that is stuck in my head.
- Meditation: I wake up 1h earlier, I make coffee, meditate, plan my day, listen to some music and enjoy my “me time”.
These practices don’t take much time at all but the ripple effect they create is priceless. I use the prompts from “The Five Minute Journal” for my gratitude writing. I also buy a ton of “thank you” cards at my local paper store when they are on sale. How are you planning to exercise your gratitude muscle? Let us know in the comments below. We can all inspire each other.
I will be sharing more specifics of how gratitude impacts our lives in a very positive and expansive way, so make sure to come back for more. If you haven’t yet, sign up to my newsletter below. And as always, let’s transform conflict and improve our relationships one conversation at a time!