The ancient Roman philosopher, Cicero, wrote,”Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I want to focus our attention on Gratitude, its benefits, and how we can engage in a “Gratitude Practice”. After all the months of living with Covid and the impact of social isolation and uncertainty, we are poised to once again be able to gather with family and friends. I believe it is more important than ever to center on the power of living with a grateful lens and practice.
Gratitude is the essence of being in a state of thankfulness. It does not mean that we are “Pollyanna”, but it does mean that with intention and by being deliberate, we can create a habit and practice of gratitude. By creating a practice of “Gratitude” we transform ourselves, empower ourselves and shift to a positive perspective. It rearranges the way we see things and experience things.
There is extensive research on gratitude and what it yields for improved well being. Living with an intentional state of gratitude, we experience increased resilience, strengthened social relationships, reduced stress and depression. At the neurotransmitter level we feel the benefits of focused gratitude with the release of dopamine and serotonin, often referred to as the “feel good neurotransmitters”. By continuously practicing gratitude, we strengthen the neural pathways and help create a permanent and positive nature within ourselves.
These physiological and neurological changes lead to an improved immune system, improved sleep, more positive social relationships, increased self awareness and mindfulness and an overall improvement in mood and satisfaction.
Robert Emmons, in his book “The Little Book of Gratitude”, describes the ARC model of Gratitude.
RESCUES us from negative emotions
CONNECTS us to other in a meaningful way
I would like to propose that we individually create a daily practice of gratitude.
And that we, as communities, create a focus and practice of gratitude, a culture and climate that has gratitude at the core.
We can do so by:
- Keeping a gratitude journal
- Sending thank you notes and acknowledging gratitude
- Acting with thoughtfulness and kindness
- Gratitude, like breath, is free and abundant. As you feel the benefits, the positive reinforcement will spur you to continue!
I am grateful for the connection we share as a Youth Health Connection community, working together to increase resilience, reduce risk and create positive mental and physical well being for our youth and communities.