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Published on July 26, 2016

Gratitude changes everything on napkin, with coffee cup and pen

Gratitude Pays Off – Big Time

Living thankfully – noticing support as you get it, stopping from time to time to reflect on things that helped you make it through the day – it’s a recipe for a better life. Boiled down: putting gratitude front-and-center in our lives not only is polite – it’s life changing!

That’s a bold statement, so stick with me as I unfold it and explain just how much benefit you can get from a three-step guide to getting more grateful – more thankful – one that can change your life for the better.

Life is busy, stress can be constant and it can go from distracting to destructive. The swirl of things to do, the deadlines – the interruptions – we all know that feeling. So how do we stop and grab the controls to work our way back to some sense of sanity? We do it by counting our blessings – physically counting them!

Living a grateful life requires a little work and I’ll spell that out in the steps below, but consider a few facts and experiments. Researchers in several universities grouped individuals and asked them to keep journals, some with coaching, and some without. The group coached to write only about things they appreciated – their blessings and the good things in their life – noticed nearly a 30 percent increase in happier feelings compared to the others.

Think about being one-third happier every day – what would that feel like? How would this impact your disposition in the office, in your kitchen, or when you’re out with friends? It’s actually approachable, too. So here you go – your three-step guide to being more grateful – and in turn, happier – in just a week’s time. Give it a try, and by all means, then repeat:

  1. Set yourself up to win by making your initial gratefulness goal one week. One week where you will do your best to avoid all complaints or consider what’s missing, but instead be thankful for what you have. Start today – so mark your calendar! A week from this moment, you’re going to be more grateful and happier. You’re already underway.
  2. Choose a time – first thing in the morning, just before bed, during your lunch – it’s up to you, but do it every day. This is when you’re going to write down 3-10 things that make you grateful. Start simple – house with air conditioning, great meal made by partner, good coworker helped me on project – find those items, and write ‘em down. Review the list – see if you can get three on Day 1, but see if you can hit 10 – or more – as you go through this week.
  3. To help yourself achieve this goal – no complaining, being more grateful – find a charm, a bracelet – anything, really – and wear it so you know you’re working on getting there. When you look down and see it, it’ll help you remember to enter items in your journal. If people ask – tell them what you’re up to, and naturally thank them for asking about it! If you still need convincing to try it, let me add that it seems to fit the Avera mission. Have I now convinced you to try?

Those three steps and a week’s time can make a giant difference. Researchers have shown it works. We all want to be happier, and being more grateful – to ourselves, to our family and friends, to coworkers and customers – starts with some concrete efforts, like writing down your reasons. This has the potential to lead to much more satisfaction.

In fact, researchers found as the patients who applied this increased their awareness of the things they had – instead of worrying about things they did not – they felt more connected to others.

You’ll thank me for trying this – and I thank you for reading it! More importantly – I’m grateful you’re going to try active gratitude for a week. Good luck – and remember to repeat it the following weeks, too!

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