Written by Sarah Davis
“For it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” — Brené Brown
Growing up, my mom ingrained in me that hand-written thank-you notes are non-negotiable part of life. Some would say it’s a Southern thing or perhaps old fashioned, but I believe it’s an incredibly powerful expression of gratitude.
Research has found that gratitude yields:
- Improved perspectives
- Appreciation for what we have versus what we want
- Stronger relationships
- Reduction in stress and illness
- Higher level of well-being
All of this sounds great but some people might be asking, “How do we get there?” We must begin by understanding why gratitude is a crucial part of thriving and the crux to great relationships — both in business and health.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology. She tells us that our thoughts precede our words, and our words precede our behaviors. What we feed grows and what we starve dies. We can choose positive thoughts or we can choose negative thoughts. Dr. Leaf advocates that each of us has the ability to change the landscape of our brains and ultimately the outlook of our lives with our thinking.
This is why gratitude is a crucial part of thriving
We are in control.
And now we’re at the “How do we get there?” part. Here are some actionable steps to begin to change the landscape of our brains:
- Lead with gratitude: Start each morning acknowledging three things you are grateful for.
- A dose of daily gratitude: Each time you think of something positive, write it down and drop in a jar.
- Create a gratitude journal: Each night before going to sleep, write down grateful experiences from the day.
- Write thank-you notes: Acknowledge those you are grateful for.
The beautiful thing about gratitude is that it can be practiced at work (starting each team meeting with gratitude) or at home (each family member acknowledges what he or she is grateful for that day while sitting around the dinner table). Gratitude doesn’t have boundaries and actively practicing it invites daily joy into our lives.
The world could use more joy, and it starts with gratitude.