It’s that time of year again to remind ourselves to be thankful. For most of us, it’s easy to appreciate family, friends, and colleagues, and be grateful for good health, a warm place to live, and a vehicle to get us from here to there. Think the thought, say the words, and make it so, right?
But what if we want to push ourselves a little more than the usual?
How do we get a little out of the gratitude comfort zone?
While doing a quick search online, I ran across the following article: “10 Ways to Be a More Thankful Person,” (https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/10-ways-be-more-thankful-person) and it inspired me to push myself a little harder. The numbers and quotes below are from the article, and the questions are mine to add a nudge to dig deeper. Here we go:
- Gratitude and health. “Some research shows that the experience of gratitude can induce a sense of relaxation, improve the immune system, and decrease blood pressure.” Being honest with myself, when I’m stressed, I’ll often eat unhealthy food or “forget” to exercise regularly. Instead of reaching for the deluxe mixed nuts after a stressful conversation, I need to find a quiet space and remind myself that “this too shall pass.”
- Gratitude and resilience. Life isn’t easy. “In fact… (gratitude) is an essential part of the process of healing from trauma. Even despair can be mitigated by the experience of appreciate for the good, however slight it might be.” Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. When I’ve had to endure very difficult situations, finding small blessings can help develop a sense of balance to help get through the pain.
- Keep a gratitude journal. “… look back through the pages of accumulated blessings in your life.” One of my daily habits is to write down 10 affirmations to set the course for a positive mindset and appreciation. Think about the day ahead and use the active voice in “I am….” statements. This simple exercise helps me appreciate myself, and serves as a useful resource when I’m stressed out.
- Savor the good moments. “If you notice you’re feeling happy, stop what you’re doing and pay attention for a few minutes. Notice exactly how you feel…” Stop and smell the roses. We’re all so busy (that awful word!) that we forget to notice the here and now. Schedule rose-smelling time and enjoy the beautiful fragrance.
- Look outward, not inward. “… people are more likely to feel grateful when they put their focus on others, rather than getting caught up in their own inner narratives…” Effective communication considers the audience first, which is a great way to get out of the “me-me-me” mindset.
This holiday season, slow down, notice, and find ways to experience gratitude and appreciation. Challenge yourself to daily practices that extend beyond an event, day, or month. What are you willing to do to challenge your level of gratitude?
Leadership sometimes seems like the pinnacle of success. Experienced climbers know the trail isn’t always straight and sometimes there are false summits that slow down the trip. Instead of focused on the end, using a “Learn | Do | Master | Teach” approach sets professionals up for all types of experiences that build their leadership skills and insights.