Power of Gratitude
In June, Mary McCraw wrote a great Friday article, The Science of Happiness, in which she talked about the ability to rewire our brains to become more positive by creating new habits. One of the habits that she recommended developing was practicing gratitude.
I’ve been exploring how to personally develop a culture of gratitude. Studies in human psychology have shown that expressing gratitude is not only an essential precursor to happiness, but that it can even increase your happiness by 25%1. If this is true, why do we all struggle with developing the grace of being thankful? Perhaps because psychologists have found that negative events have a greater influence on our brains than positive events.2 Quite simply, focusing on the negative makes us less likely to experience gratitude.
People tend to have either a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full approach to life. But even if you are on the half-empty side, you are not doomed for this to be your permanent state. Research shows that through the conscious addition of a gratitude practice, you can train yourself to have more of a glass-half-full experience.
How to start
Here are some strategies for you to consider:
- Create a gratitude list
- Journal daily what you are grateful for
- Use the Internet as a resource, such as The 34 Best TED talks and videos on the power of gratitude
My list to improve my attitude
- I have identified each of my life periods, (youth, high school, college, medical school, residency, career, etc.), and spent time meditating on each one. I made a list of each person that has had a significant influence on my personal or career success, my personal success I then revisited and refined the list, and am now writing a short note to each person to thank him or her for his or her influence in my life. I have found this exercise to be extremely humbling and has definitely made me more grateful.
- I am working on building a regular meditation practice which is truly a work in progress.
- Every evening before bedtime, I try to list three things that happened that day that make me thankful.
This is my small effort to try to become more grateful. I hope you will review some of the excellent videos on gratitude noted above, and consider your own small steps to enhance an attitude of gratitude in your live. It will improve your outlook and your life.
As always, we are here for you. Please email or call if you want to set up a Zoom videoconference meeting or talk by phone.
1 Robinson, Bryan. The Power of Gratitude and How It Raises Your Happiness Level. Forbes, November 18, 2019.
2 Cherry, Kendra. What is the Negativity Bias?
Ralph Broadwater, M.D., CFP®, AIF®
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