I’m grateful for my gratitude, and not because it just has me feeling good. Research shows that people who are grateful are happier, more satisfied, hopeful and optimistic, less depressed and anxious. Grateful people also sleep better and are more socially connected. Generally, people who exhibit positivity are more creative, energetic and more intelligent resulting in 37% better performance (Shawn Achor, TED.com). For you science geeks, these positive effects are believed to be mediated by increased dopamine levels.
Not only am I grateful but I’m fortunate to have a natural inclination for gratitude. If gratitude does not come naturally to you, you can intentionally increase your gratitude in the following ways:
- Journal – 3 minutes per day about new things you’re grateful for. Do this for 21 days and you can make your brain more grateful.
- Write a letter – write and deliver a letter of gratitude to someone you want to thank. The more you do this, the better!
- Thank people – look for opportunities to thank people, for big and small things. Say it sincerely, look them in the eye. Sales/customer service people, custodial staff, administrative staff are most often overlooked.
- Have a savor ritual – I use the mundane, mindless arts of my day to savor the things I’m grateful for. For example, whenever I am in the restroom, I reflect on how grateful I am to have running water, plumbing, electricity and shelter! Much of the world does not enjoy these amenities.
Also, though I have been doing the same drive and 2 block walk to work for 20 years, each day the experience is completely different. It’s not a beautiful commute by most standards but I find it gorgeous. Here are some photos from my commute – the types of things I notice and savor. This was not a particularly special day meteorologically or otherwise, unless you make it so.
Try it! You’ll be grateful you did.