As the end of the year approaches and our US friends are celebrating Thanksgiving, this can be a great time to reflect on the last 12 months, come together with your family and friends and think about what you’re grateful for. It’s a wonderful thing to do and there’s so much research about the benefits of gratitude on your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Proven Benefits of Gratitude
One of the proven benefits of gratitude is that it’s a key factor in building resilience. Researcher and author Shawn Achor explains that resilience is about how you recharge, not about how you endure. Resilience is the ability to take events in your stride, even when they are stressful and it’s about being able to sustain your energy, even in highly demanding situations and tasks. Resilience is so important to your wellbeing because it’s one of the key ways to prevent burnout and give yourself the chance to truly thrive. Your resilience levels are fueled by qualities like optimism, which is where gratitude comes into play. This is something we talk about in more detail in Module 7 of the Women Rising program.
Gratitude is the most powerful tool to counteract your brain’s in-built negativity bias, which is your brain’s tendency to tune into the negative things that happen in your life and hold onto them. You may have noticed that you’re much more likely to remember negative feedback, criticism, mistakes you’ve made or embarrassing moments than all of the positive feedback and things you’ve done right in your life. The way that gratitude helps to counteract this, is that by actively choosing to focus on what you’re grateful for, your brain actually relives the experience, which puts it in a positive state.
According to Achor’s research, we know that your brain at positive performs significantly better than at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, it’s been found that all business outcomes improve. Your brain at positive is 31% more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed. The advantages are significant.
8 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude
The real power of gratitude is experienced when you have a consistent and regular practice. Studies show that if you can practice gratitude for 21 days in a row, this is enough to rewire your brain to retain a pattern of scanning the world not for the negative, but for the positive first.
If you’ve never had a gratitude practice before, or if you’re wanting some ideas for how you could change things up, here are 8 simple ways to bring in the benefits of gratitude on a daily basis:
- Wake up and acknowledge one thing that you’re grateful for first thing in the morning.
- Share with your family around the dinner table something that you’re grateful for from that day.
- Keep a gratitude journal beside your bed and write down three things that you’re grateful for each day and why those things were meaningful to you.
- Start a gratitude jar, where you write down a moment you’re grateful for on a piece of paper and pop it in the jar as often as you like. Once the jar is full, you can read through all the notes and relive the special moments.
- Text a friend each day with something you’re grateful for or appreciate about them.
- Buy some thank you cards and write to someone in your life who has done something for you recently that you may not have thanked them for yet.
- Send an email of gratitude first thing in the morning to an unsuspecting colleague.
- Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on your life. If you can, arrange to meet them in person and read the letter out loud to them, expressing your gratitude in person. This is known as the gratitude visit and according to Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, it is the most effective positive intervention to improve your happiness and wellbeing levels.
There are so many ways that you can introduce gratitude into your life and the key as always, is to find something that feels good to you.
Something that we’re grateful for at Women Rising are the incredible reviews we get from the women who have been through our program. We are so privileged to be able to guide them through our holistic personal and professional development program and witness their breakthrough moments and transformations.