Jacky Leonard's blog

Archive entries for: Mar-2019

Do You Have An Attitude Of Gratitude?

Categories:  Being on purpose, Life Balance and Wellbeing

Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot ~ The Hausa of Nigeria

Switch on any channel and you’ll see many examples of individual, corporate and political greed. Power hungry people, driven by the need for more…more money, more possessions and more control.  Often, this is achieved at the expense of others’ needs, safety and wellbeing.  I’m all for striving to be your best, but how about doing good for others, as well as doing well for yourself.

I’ve been re-reading some interesting and compelling studies and publications about another G…Gratitude.

Studies by Professor Robert Emmons, world leading scientific expert on the subject, suggest you can improve your happiness by 25% by practicing being thankful.  It can also put you and others in the best position to perform and produce your very best. 

So, how grateful are you?  Sometimes you can be so busy driving toward your goals, you forget to glance over your shoulder, pause and appreciate how far you’ve already come.  Maybe you’ve begun taking your friends, family or colleagues for granted and failed to tell them how much you value them.

The pace of life can make it difficult to stay in the moment and appreciate all the things you have; to remember the important components of your world and acknowledge, cherish and enjoy each and every one.  Practicing gratitude is just another thing you will have to add to your already busy schedule.  Perhaps you’re already thinking, is it worth the effort?

According to Professor Emmons it most definitely is.  People who practice gratitude enjoy the following benefits:

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated

That’s quite a list! 

 

If those benefits have given you food for thought, what next?  Where and how do you start being more appreciative of your life and all its component parts?

Here are some tips for making gratitude a habit, rather than an afterthought. 

1.      First decide why?  What’s are your reasons for wanting to become more grateful?  Usually the answer to this is linked to your values…those things that are really important to you, such as making a difference to others, being healthy, enjoying time with others etc.

 

2.      Next consider how you want to practice?  What tool or method might work for you?

There are lots of options, everything from gratitude apps to journals.  These are designed to make you stop, think and be thankful for the things you have, the person you are and the people you love.  The trick is to build in some time to do this consistently, so it becomes part of who you are.  Expect to go through the motions to start.  It can take a bit of practice to make it an emotive as well as a cognitive experience…and it really is something you have to feel as well as think.

 

Another thing you could try is to pay it forward.  Acknowledge the contribution from others and tell them just how much you value them, how important they are to you, or your organisation and outline the impact they are having.  Notice their reaction.  They may initially be surprised, a little embarrassed, or even a wary.  Don’t let this stop you.  Consistently try to spot people doing things well, or right and tell them.  A genuine thank you for a job well done, a positive attitude, or a helping hand, is an extremely powerful motivator and will make a positive difference.

 

3.      Lastly, just do it!  Practice, practice, practice.  Make it a daily habit by spending just a few minutes a day appreciating all you have, all you are and all you can do.

Try this simple activity:  At the end of each day ask yourself these 3 questions…

  • What did I do today that I’m grateful for?
  • Who, or what do I love and how do they enhance my life and make it a better place?
  • What do I hope tomorrow will bring?

Make this a regular activity, like cleaning your teeth, or having a shower and you’ll start to enjoy the benefits of a new healthy habit.

 

My good friend and colleague, Liggy Webb sums gratitude up beautifully in this poem:

Before I close my eyes each night, at the end of everyday

There is something very important, that I always like to say

Thank You

Thank you for the things I’ve learnt, they teach me how to know

Thank you for my challenges, they show me how to grow

Thank you for the good times and thank you for the bad

It helps me to appreciate what I have and haven’t had

Thank you for my family and thank you for each friend

You are so very special and all that matters in the end

Thank you for my experiences and thank you for my past

For the magic of the memories through my lifetime that will last

Thank you for my journey and the dreams I’m going to live

Thank you for my future and for the best I’ve yet to give

So, before I close my eyes each night what I really want to say

Is thank you for my life and thank you for today.

 

What will you do to practice gratitude, or show your appreciation going forward?

 

If you’d like to read more about the power of gratitude check out the books below:

Thanks! - How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

Thank you - Your guide to appreciating life by Liggy Webb