As you’ll hear, “Gratitude heals, energizes, and transforms lives,” according to Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and expert on the science of gratitude.
His research shows and my experience is that being thankful reduces stress, pain and anxiety, so being my best is more within reach.
The reason *practicing* a mindset of gratitude is the key, is that it’s not easy and automatic. It’s not like we can flip a switch and truly be thankful for something that may be very painful.
Nor is it a constant frame of mind. During times when the pain (whether it’s physical, emotional, or highly stressful), being thankful can be very challenging. So, here are a few strategies I hope you’ll find helpful, as I have:
1. Start. Pick a time when you can sit quietly, comfortably and just be. Then think of, and write down a list of things you might be thankful for, even given the challenges you’ve experienced. For example, what have your learned about yourself and others? What good has transpired? I wouldn’t have met the mother of my children if it weren’t for the life-altering injury and first three surgeries, therefore, I’m thankful for having the wonderful children that I do.
2. Revisit your list, regularly. Once a week? Daily? Sit quietly again and again to review and edit your list. Add to it as you can. The more often you spend time reading the list, or just thinking about it, the more your mind and emotions will embrace a gratitude mindset.
3. If you lead a team at work (and think of your family as a team), make this a group exercise, also with some frequency.
BE YOUR BEST…
When you believe the situations are right and you can do this with sincerity, speak of your gratitude with others.
This is neuroplasticity at work: when you share something positive with others, it will flow right back to you. And so, not only with others experience your gratitude, you’ll experience, too. Just as I’m sharing this with you, like what Robert Emmons said above, I’m enjoying a sense of energy and optimism right now.
As Michael J. Fox recently said, “With gratitude, optimism becomes sustainable.”
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