by Terry Goss, BFA
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Imagine that someone offered you an activity that could lift your spirits, improve your stamina, strengthen your relationships, revitalize your practice, and deepen your enjoyment of life. All that it would require of you would be to remember to practice it each day. Would you make the effort?
That “activity” is gratitude — a concept so familiar that we may underestimate the benefits it brings into our lives or the price we pay for its absence. Training ourselves to adopt a grateful outlook as our primary response can be the most constructive habit we ever develop.
Over time, gratitude strengthens our ability to deflect difficult emotions such as fear, anxiety, and blame, freeing us to focus instead on the people and events that most enrich our lives.
Although feelings of gratitude are familiar to us all, they can prove elusive when we’re pressured by our hectic day-to-day lives. Even then, gratitude is within our reach, its benefits available in abundance if we just remember to put it into daily practice. So let’s take a closer look at what gratitude can do for us, and how we can incorporate more of its benefits into our lives.
#1 — Gratitude feels good
Through the simple but profound act of putting gratitude into practice, we increase our sense of optimism, enthusiasm, and alertness. In turn, this heightens our available energy and determination, creating a sense of well-being that empowers us and increases our willingness to be helpful to others. It can actually help us reset our happiness set-point, and it reduces depression, stress, and anxiety.
#2 — Gratitude is good for your health
Gratitude helps us live longer and bolsters our immune system, suppresses stress hormones, and boosts endorphins. We can use it to minimize headaches and allergy attacks as we deepen our breathing, raise our oxygen level, and increase the blood supply to our heart.
“Among all emotions, there is one which, more than any other, accounts for the presence or absence of stress in human relations: that is the feeling of gratitude.” — Dr. Hans Selye of McGill University
#3 — Gratitude creates a positive force in your life
We can learn to see uncertainty and change as opportunities to pull together as a team, reinventing ourselves as we move forward. Gratitude helps develop more flexibility, resourcefulness, and resilience, and helps us remember to be our best.
“Around every corner is another gift waiting to surprise us, and it will surprise us if we can achieve control over our natural tendencies to make comparisons, to take things for granted, and to feel entitled.” — G. K. Chesterton
#4 — Gratitude attracts abundance
By focusing on what is positive in our lives, we attract more of it. Noticing what we are grateful for changes the way we perceive our world. Having dreams and goals for the future is important, and being grateful for what we have now is a key ingredient in helping us to achieve our goals.
#5 — Gratitude fuels others
Showing gratitude, and accepting it graciously from others, is wholesome and healing. Team members want to do their best work and are hungry for acknowledgement of their part in creating a successful practice. It really does “take a village.”
“Encourage each other to become the best you can be. Celebrate what you want to create more of.” — Tom Peters
#6 — Gratitude enhances positive memories
When we are grateful, we are more likely to notice the positive things in life, thereby “encoding” those experiences in memory. People who are grateful show a “positive recall” bias, conjuring up many more pleasant memories than unpleasant ones.
#7 — Gratitude improves team spirit and focus
Absence of gratitude carries a high price in the workplace. It discourages initiative and hurts feelings, triggering a cycle of resentment and apathy. Feeling unappreciated or disrespected is the number one reason people quit their jobs. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude within the team increases a sense of safety and synergy, improves clarity and decision-making, boosts performance, and improves work/life balance.
#8 — Gratitude propels personal growth
Growth occurs as we overcome obstacles on our road to gratitude and when we are brave enough to embrace gratitude’s interconnectedness. Being grateful does not imply indebtedness or require a loss of autonomy, nor does it imply that we are complacent or simply settling for the status quo. Rather, gratitude empowers individuals and encourages growth. Be bold, take the plunge, and experience the power of appreciation.
“The future depends on many things, but mostly on you.” — Frank Tyger
#9 — Gratitude works best as a daily practice
Gratitude is a discipline. We can begin our day with “thank you,” and then journal about what we are most grateful for. Small things are just as important as large ones; it’s all in how we view them. We can also take momentary “gratitude time-outs” to turn frustration triggers (stuck in traffic, a patient is late for an appointment, etc.) into reminders to slow down, take a deep breath, stretch, and remember to experience gratitude. And we can end the day by focusing on gratitude, thereby helping to ensure a good night’s sleep.
“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein
#10 — Gratitude is a choice
Gratitude involves deliberate choice. We can make a conscious decision to count our blessings and pay attention to what is positive and working in our lives. Our internal reactions don’t have to be at the mercy of external forces.
“I will act as if I do make a difference.” — William James
Patients are an invaluable resource, entrusting themselves and their families to our care. Each office visit brings them into contact with members of the team, offering opportunities for us to show our gratitude for their presence and our appreciation for their faith in us.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” — Victor Frankl
Life is sweet. As we align thought, action, and emotion with our tasks and ambitions, we are filled with enthusiasm, infused with purpose and meaning. As we express our gratitude to others, and learn to accept their appreciation, relationships are enriched. In the moments when we are awake to the wonder of simply being alive, gratitude flows with ease, no matter our circumstances. Don’t miss the miracle.
A final thought from Terry
My wish is that we achieve a sustaining state of gratitude, for it has the power to make us happier, healthier, and more productive. Gratitude increases our connection to those around us, awakening us to be more fully present to the inherent wonders of each day in this amazing journey we call “life.”
For an expansive exploration of these top 10 reasons to cultivate gratitude, visit www.TerryGossAssoc.com. Along with a wealth of resources, you can download the free article “The Power of Gratitude and Appreciation.”
Terry Goss, BFA, is a certified professional co-active coach and master practitioner of NLP. A nationally recognized practice-management consultant, speaker, and coach, she has extensive training in advanced management and leadership development, behavioral psychology, and the new neuroscience. For more information, visit www.TerryGossAssoc.com.