Merriam-Webster defines gratitude as a quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness: “she expressed her gratitude to the committee for their support”. December is often the time that we pause to reflect on the many things that we are grateful for. Psychologists have found that gratitude is an emotion that boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health. Embracing an attitude of gratitude at home, work and in our communities will foster joy and strengthen our relationships.
Gratitude starts with us. Begin with something as simple as each night take a moment to reflect on three things that you are grateful for. As you cultivate this habit pay attention to the positive shift that begins to transform your attitude. These beneficial effects snowball over time. Brain scans of people assigned a task that stimulates expression of gratitude show lasting changes in the prefrontal cortex that heighten sensitivity to future experiences of gratitude. The emotion literally pays itself forward.
Creating a home that is rich in gratitude is a gift to yourself and your family. Practicing this simple exercise nightly will keep the dinner conversation positive and nurture a grateful environment. Tonight, at dinner go around the table and have each person share three things from their day that they are grateful for.
At work, we can sometimes spiral into negativity. Next time you are having a bad day, take a moment to walk outside and take a gratitude walk. Take in the air, smells, color and begin mentally listing all that there is to be grateful for. When you return to your desk you will feel refreshed and your attitude will be remarkably improved.
We all have colleagues that offer encouragement or lend a hand on a project, it’s nice to recognize them with a sincere thank you, but a public acknowledgment can go twice as far. During your next meeting leave a few minutes, in the end, to welcome “appreciations”. It’s easy, it can go something like this; We are opening the last few minutes for appreciations, I would like to start by appreciating Janet for the work I put into that project. Adding this exercise to your next meeting will build trust and an atmosphere of gratitude.
Becoming involved in our communities offers the opportunity to pay it forward and be part of something bigger than we are. There are many ways to get involved. Think about your talents, what skills do you have to offer? Do you have a hobby that you enjoy, and others would benefit from learning? At APLS Group we have created The Learning Illumination Center, an organization that provides academic scholarships to student-athletes to offset the cost of higher education. Through investing in the future of these young athletes and helping them to reach their potential we believe that we are helping to shape our community in a positive way.
Whether you start small or jump into cultivating a habit of being grateful, we hope that you embrace this practice for the benefit of yourself, your family and your community. We have created a gratitude worksheet that you can use to get started.