By Sarah Lyngdal, NENA Director
Ticket to Work Program Manager
Employment Resources, Inc.
November is the month most people stop to think about what they’re thankful for. But studies show there are physical health, mental health, and social benefits to practicing gratitude regularly. Focusing on what we’re thankful for changes the way we think, and the benefits extend to all areas of our lives. I’ll briefly touch on a few of them.
Relationships: Gratitude can improve our personal relationships. Grateful and positive people are magnetic, and other people want to be around them. Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions; we become more empathetic, optimistic, compassionate and kind.
Emotions: Gratitude reduces toxic emotions like envy, frustration, regret, and resentment while improving life satisfaction, self-esteem, and happiness. We have better self-control and make better decisions because we’re more patient and thoughtful.
Physical Health: The practice of writing in a gratitude journal before bed promotes positive thinking which helps us sleep better and longer.
Careers: Gratitude can help our careers. It helps us network, increases our productivity and improves our management skills. Expressing gratitude to employees, for example, increases employee motivation; we work harder when we feel appreciated.
Gratitude is a mindset that can guide our interactions. We celebrate the wins instead of focusing solely on the losses. This is extremely important in the work we do. Our customers may feel embarrassed and disappointed about a job ending and they lose sight of any positives from their overall experience. The positives can be their accomplishments on the job, the recent experience they gained, the relationships they built, or confidence they gained in their ability to work. It doesn’t mean dismissing disappointment and sadness–we acknowledge those feelings, but then we move forward. If we change our mindsets to focus on the positives and gratitude, the conversation changes and that makes a difference in our relationships, happiness, stress levels and resilience.
Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
Say “thank you.” Meditate. Pray. Keep a gratitude journal. It doesn’t matter what activity you choose, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent and intentional practice to change our frame of mind to one that focuses on gratitude.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes— “Be thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey