Gratitude. A November issue of any publication would not be complete without some mention of gratitude. And although Thanksgiving is a time when people reflect on what they are most thankful for, gratitude is a feeling that could serve us well if practiced throughout the year.
What Is Gratitude?
According to Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a scientific expert on gratitude, gratitude has two components.
- Gratitude acknowledges the good things in the world. It recognizes that although life itself is full of challenges, there is still an amount of goodness or blessing that can be identified when we look at our lives as a whole.
- Gratitude also acknowledges the source of goodness. True gratitude ultimately expresses a humble dependence on the people in our lives and God.
The Value in Gratitude
As an emotional intelligence consultant and coach, I encourage my clients to pay attention to their feelings. Feelings, all feelings, even the ones you consider to be negative, are important. They provide you with key bits of data that help you to navigate life.
Gratitude is one feeling that has proven to provide a variety of benefits if experienced often. A growing body of research shows that gratitude has a direct correlation to your:
- Effectiveness with greater focus on what matters most
- Relationships and deeper connections with others
- Health and well-being with lower stress and stronger immune system
- Overall quality of life experiencing more joy, energy, and greater sense of self-worth.
How To Feel More Gratitude In Your Life
There are many ways to practice feeling more gratitude. Here are few of my favorites.
(1) Keep a gratitude jar. Find a jar and cut up several slips of paper to place beside the jar. Make it a practice to jot down what you are grateful for at least two-three times per day. At the end of the month, dump the jar out and read all the slips of paper with someone. Recall the people and circumstances that encouraged you to document the feeling. Continue this process throughout the year.
(2) Whether you use a paper calendar or an electronic calendar, find a place to jot down feelings of gratitude each day. Pay attention to the source of gratitude and the feelings you are associating with the gratitude. Make it a habit to review your notes at the end of each week.
(3) Practice going around the table at dinner time sharing a feeling of gratitude from the day. This is a great way to help young children get in the habit of recognizing and experiencing gratitude.
Finally, gratitude is often a feeling associated with receiving. But what if you challenged yourself to turn that around so that gratitude came from giving? I saw a recent example of this from a friend on Facebook. Her young son bought an ice cream cone with the money he had earned from doing chores for a neighbor. Walking out of the store, he placed the nickel and penny change he received on the sidewalk so “some other kid could find it and feel grateful!”
Wow! Gratitude gives!
Kelli Schulte, ACC, EQCA, EQPC is an emotional intelligence consultant and coach. She provides assessment, training, and coaching to equip the leaders of today, and the next generation. You can learn more about her organization at www.EQuipStudios.net