Gratitude is Good For Us

Adele’s instant earworm (I mean hit) Hello has been stuck in my head all weekend.  And, according to a sketch on Saturday Night Live, it is powerful enough to stop a politically polarizing Thanksgiving family fight in its tracks. adele song hello

In the sketch, the family is engaged in two activities familiar to many of us this time of year, arguing and gratitude.

Neuroscience, cardiology, and psychology agree that gratitude is good for us.  It strengthens our hearts, lowers stress hormones even reduces depression. With all those benefits, it’s curious to me why we don’t focus on appreciation more.

We’re more likely to be appreciative when people or situations positively exceed our expectations, and less likely to be appreciative with the mundane day to day experiences and interactions in our lives.

In a recent podcast about gratitude from To the Best of Our Knowledge I learned about the Japanese practice of Naikan.  As a practice, Naikan is a tradition or spiritual discipline that teaches people how to deliberately cultivate gratitude by noticing all the tiny little things we take for granted.

Gregg Krech, Executive Director of the ToDo Institute was interviewed for the show, and he encourages us to be thankful for more than the turkey this thanksgiving—be thankful for the furnace, for the roof, even for the lanes in the street—these are the things in the world that are supporting our lives.

One way to shift our attention is to literally start thanking the inanimate objects around you that help you do what you do throughout the day.  For example, I can say, thank you keyboard for keeping up with my thoughts, thank you light for making my office brighter on this rainy day, thank you microwave for reheating my coffee for the third time…

Our lives are very much shaped by our intentions, and what we focus on.  We can choose to focus on problems, tragedies or difficulties in the world and in that choice, we may neglect to appreciate all of the little things that are really supporting us and helping to give us a good life.

Hopefully this shift will bring us all a bit more energy, calm and perspective during what can be a crazy time of year—and if not, there’s always Adele

Jennifer Albrecht, Vice President of Professional Development, has been teaching and consulting with Learn iT! since 1997. Since joining Learn iT!, Jennifer has built and facilitated all of Learn iT!’s Professional Development classes including Communication, Leadership, Negotiating and Decision Making.

Jennifer strongly believes in Learn iT!’s 8 Step Model for Learning and applies it in all of the classes she builds and facilitates. Further information on the 8 Step Model can be found here.