You Might Not Like What I Have To Say…But You Might Be Grateful To Hear It
Welcome to my first blog of 2015! If we haven’t yet met, you can see a little more of what I’m about at by watching my intro video and if you’d like you can contact me personally so I can “meet you back” (and by the way, infinitely more interesting and fun for me to have a two-way intro!).
So, I was driving to the office this morning, salted caramel non-fat (at least I hope it was) latte in hand, listening to a podcast by a well-known speaker. She made an observation I happen to agree with (and will share more about in another blog). However, I was struck by my bigger, more immediate reaction, which was, “I bet she got an awful lot of flack from the audience for that comment.” (And reminds me…Boy, did I get an earful (from clients and callers alike) in response to my admonition to wait before jumping heart-strong into a new relationship from those who had been happily married after having known each other a matter of weeks, but I digress.)
I got to thinking: Just about ANY subject these days is fodder for disagreement. You know what I’m talking about, everything from the use of GMO’s (c’mon, you know you’ve seen that acronym 100x in your Facebook newsfeeds by now) to legalization of same-sex marriage (which I support by the way) and just about every other subject you can think of under the sun.
It’s probably true – for every problem, its own solution; for every life, its own path. When I suddenly thought of an exception, maybe JUST ONE. You see, I became less concerned about the polarizing effect of this speaker’s opinion (and the hot debate my own blog post had sparked) the moment I recognized and became grateful for the free-will and individuality that disagreement itself implies. What freedom of choice! Direction! Solution! More gratitude=less fear. More gratitude=more ability to be present.
In fact, there are more than a couple of psychologists who have done a whole lot of research on the study of gratitude. GRATITUDE? Yes, gratitude. Stay with me…
In one particular study they asked participants to briefly capture a few notes each week specific to particular subjects. The first group was asked to write about anything they might be grateful for over the course of the week. The second group was asked to write about anything that came up that bugged them (could be large or small), and the last group was asked to write about anything that may have had an impact on them (good or bad).
Ten weeks later, guess what they found? Those who wrote about gratitude described themselves as feeling generally more optimistic and better about their lives in general. (P.S. These folks also indicated they had exercised more and fewer trips to their docs than those who were asked to focus on the irritations of life.)
With a little googling and a lot to read, most of the research on this topic asserts a very compelling correlation between your well-being and gratitude. And, if recognition of gratitude is NOT even in the realm of your personal experience,or comfort level, I would be grateful ☺ if you would reach out to me.
And there’s more good news including a bunch of studies that have also taken a look at the impact of gratitude on relationships.
According to a summary of a study detailed in Harvard Medical (Nov 2011) “…Individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship.” Again, if this is far from where you are or how you’re feeling about your relationship, we can explore that too.
So the bottom-line is while you might not always like what I have to say – I’m guessing we can all agree that expressing gratitude is generally a good thing. And if you struggle with the ability to express or even experience the feeling of gratitude, I can definitely assure you you are not alone. It’s hard to do something without practicing it first.
How to Practice Gratitude
So what are some easy, cost-effective ways we can choose to practice gratitude?
We can call someone on the phone with a word of appreciation; pray/meditate; keep a gratitude journal; count our blessings before we drift off to sleep; write a quick note of thanks (and even mail it which these days is so much more fun to receive than email, right?); or maybe even identify and capture three things every day that we are grateful for (no matter how bad the day)….I think you get the idea.
I have many more ideas about and approaches to gratitude AND I believe you do as well. Is there anybody out there who would disagree that expressing gratitude is healthy for kids, adults, families, relationships, and/or at work? If so, it’s okay I’m still grateful you took the time to read this.
And if you’re really serious about practicing gratitude, feel free to jump on over and follow my professional Facebook Page where we are currently working through a series entitled “January Joy”, providing opportunities for each of us to express gratitude for the simplest of gifts with prompts developed by the best-selling author, Ann Voskamp.
Grateful for your interest. Now go take on the day!