Nov 13, 201812:43 PMThe Gray Area
with Donna Gray
The benefits of gratitude
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Every year, we Americans set aside the fourth Thursday of November as a day of gratitude. Lately, I’ve had a couple of “wake-up calls” reminding me to be grateful for the little things in life, so this year, I’m starting early and I’m going to do my best to continue counting my blessings all the way through to Thanksgiving Day 2019. A life coach friend told me that this is a habit that can have a huge impact on our outlook on life and can do wonders for the way we interact with others. Personally, I just want to feel the good feelings that you get from saying, “Thank you for all the good things that happen in life.”
My coach friend suggested that we should look for little ways to incorporate gratitude in daily doings. On most days, you might find that gratitude manifests itself as a reaction to an event or outcome. In our work lives, many are grateful for returning customers — the ones with whom we really enjoy working. You might also be grateful when an especially difficult project is finished and the appreciation starts flowing in. Not only are we happy to get the project finished, it’s great to get a customer or client’s praise for our hard work!
Research has shown that gratitude heightens the quality of life. Two psychologists, Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University and Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted an experiment on gratitude and the impact it has on our well-being. The results of this study showed that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy. It also led to reduction in depression and stress, and those who used daily gratitude were better able to help others.
So, counting our blessings can boost our health, relieve stress, help us bond with others, and it’s good for our blood pressure, heart, and to slow down aging? Count me in!
How often do we take time to appreciate what we have in our personal and our work lives? It’s often easier to focus on what’s going wrong instead of being thankful for what’s going right. My coach friend says that gratitude is too good to be left for just the Thanksgiving table. She adds that this approach has to be cultivated since it doesn’t come automatically to everyone.