The Power Of Gratitude
November 2013 Insights
What better month to write about the virtues of gratitude then in November when we celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday particularly known for acknowledging our blessings and taking stock in all that is good in our lives. I’ve actually been wanting to write about the concept of gratitude for awhile now because it too is just as instrumental in enhancing our lives as are any of the strategies, tools and insights I share with my clients. Since many people seem to think that the primary focus of my work with clients is mostly about what’s not working in their lives, I really wanted to take this newsletter to share how creating positive change in one’s life is actually more about looking for what is working in your life and not obsessing about what is not. Building upon our strengths and examining the positive aspects of our lives is just as integral to creating greater success and fulfillment as is eliminating anything that is counterproductive to our ambitions.
So in this month’s newsletter I’m asking everyone to consider the possibility that their life is already filled with “overflowing abundance” and to start seeking evidence to support this. By cultivating and practicing the act of gratitude it will undoubtedly enhance your well-being. I base this not only on personal experience but professional as current and creditable research support that gratitude does matter when it comes to the pursuit of happiness.
Google any “how to” article relating to increasing one’s well-being and you will find tons of literature and research supporting the practice of gratitude as a necessary step to developing greater happiness in one’s life. Numerous behavioral and psychological studies all support that daily gratitude practices result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. In addition, to lessening stress and depressive symptoms.
So why wouldn’t anyone start cultivating a little gratitude in their lives? Clearly, this would seem like a win-win scenario to most. However, despite all of the benefits that living a grateful life can bring, grateful thoughts and behaviors are not easy or natural to come by, discouraging many from giving it a fair try. But as with anything that is worthy of having, deliberate effort must be made.
Below you will find a few strategies that I share with clients to help assist them in cultivating gratitude and shift their perspective to be more positive and proactive. As with any learned skill you must always nurture it and be intentional about using it, otherwise you risk losing any gains you make.
5 Simple Ways To Cultivate Gratitude
- Keep a gratitude journal. All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis. No fancy notebook required!
- Give at least one compliment daily. It can be to a person or it can be asking someone to share your appreciation of something else (“I love the smell of fresh cut grass in the summer, do you?”). This simply just creates opportunities to find the beauty in things or others around you by expressing appreciation.
- Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for an entire week. If you slip, no worries, get back on task. Notice the amount of energy you were spending on negative thoughts and actions.
- If you come across someone or something with a negative trait, switch it in your mind to a positive trait (a friend who may be somewhat loud and embarrassing but also very loving and loyal or a road trip with unexpected traffic but great views to look at).
- When you find yourself in a stressful situation ask: What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what opportunity might there be? What can I be grateful for?
With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year around the corner, November is a great time of year to invest in the practice of gratitude. It will not only strengthen your relationships and improve your own well-being but it will help prevent and relieve the stress that unfortunately accompanies the holiday season.
Keep your eyes open for next month’s newsletter. Though December is a busy month for most, once the dust settles post holiday craze, I’m hoping you’ll take some time to read it and reflect on your year’s past and gear up so to say for the new year ahead!
WISHING YOU ALL
*Looking for more ways to cultivate gratitude, check out Dr. Robert Emmons’ book “Thanks! How
Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier” or download gratitude journal apps for iPhone
and Gratitude Plus for iPad. Both apps encourage you to write at least five good things
daily, add photos and rate the day.