Each week at our Coworking and Wellness Mentoring Meetups we encourage our coworkers to write on our chalk board what they are grateful for. This week we asked what they were grateful for in winter. Some wrote cozy reflection time, another wrote winter hats – the bottom line was instead of focusing on the negatives of winter we focused on the positive aspects of winter. Good idea since in Toronto there is no avoiding it so …. why not embrace it? Today I am grateful for the amazing opportunity to attend a mentoring lunch with Kirstine Stewart, VP of Media and Partnerships for Twitter North America. In her book, Our Turn she writes about how grateful she was for her team when she started Twitter Canada, as they all brought to the table amazing skills and together they worked to launch the Canadian office (Thank you Lindsey for inviting me and for sending me her book which I devoured!).
In a recent article from Chopra Centre Lifestyle quoted a 2003 study, a group of subjects kept a personal journal for 10 weeks, in which they rated their mood, physical health, and other factors that contribute to being happy. They were told either to describe five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week (the gratitude condition), or they did the opposite and described five daily hassles (the hassles condition) that they were displeased about.
Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising than control participants did. Similar studies have shown improved emotions when someone who has a chronic illness focuses on an “attitude of gratitude” instead of feeling negative. Similarly, gratitude leads to lower levels of stress hormones.
Now that we know gratitude is good for you, it joins the list of things, including love and empathy that create a biochemical shift in the body. Since gratitude is a mental activity, it’s a powerful finding to show how something totally non-physical can alter the physical activity of the brain. The general lesson here is that the brain responds to positive input and sends life-enhancing messages to every cell in the body.
How can you activate the power of gratitude in your own life?
The 3 Stages of Gratitude
There are three stages of gratitude, each one more effective than the one before. These are:
- Feeling grateful for the good things in your life
- Expressing your gratitude to the people who have made your life better
- Adopting new behavior as a result of interacting with those who have helped you
All of us have experienced the first stage—we have felt grateful that something good has happened, often in the context of escaping a threat like a disease diagnosis that turns out to be a false alarm. To make this feeling more than a passing moment, you need to make the “attitude of gratitude” more continuous. Keeping a brief journal, as in the gratitude study, is all it takes to trigger the health benefits of gratitude—a good start for anyone.
Here are some Quotes to Inspire You on the joys and benefits of Gratitude:
1. “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward
2. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” — Oprah Winfrey
3. “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” — Frank A. Clark
4. “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” — Maya Angelou
5. “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
6. “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
7. “The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.” — Henry Ward Beecher
8. “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” — John F. Kennedy
9. “Thank you is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” — Alice Walker
10. “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” — Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
11. “Gratitude always comes into play; research shows that people are happier if they are grateful for the positive things in their lives, rather than worrying about what might be missing.” — Dan Buettner
12. “The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” — Dalai Lama
13. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson
14. “Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” — Margaret Cousins
15. “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” — W. Clement Stone