Why focus on gratitude?
What if we learned there was a brand new medicine that would make us happier. It would improve our romantic relationships as well as our friendships. Leave us feeling more optimistic and closer to God. Improve our effectiveness at work as well as our decision-making. Reduce stress and feelings of depression. Improve our physical health and the length and quality of our sleep.
There are no side effects.
And best of all, it costs us nothing.
This medicine exists. All you have to do is write yourself a prescription for a gratitude journal.
If we commit to writing down three things we are grateful for and why each day for the next 21 days, the science shows we can begin to rewire our brains to become more grateful. Permanently.
Our theme this year at PCI is “grateful hearts” because we have much to be grateful for. In 2021, we are celebrating the 100th year since my grandfather Rocky Clancy started our predecessor company, the Rockwell F. Clancy Company.
We are beginning the year with “100 Days of Gratitude” where I’ve challenged each associate to keep a gratitude journal. As described above, we are committing to take a few minutes each day to write down three things we are grateful for and perhaps a sentence or two about why we are grateful. We are being intentional about noticing the progress each of us is making.
Our goal is to create a wave of gratitude that will take us through the year and into our next century.
Why focus on gratitude?
Because gratitude leads to happiness – something we all aspire to.
And, as it turns out, happiness is not just a good feeling. It is also an indispensable ingredient of our success, Shawn Achor tells us in The Happiness Advantage. We grow up believing if we work hard, we will be successful. Then, once we are successful, we will then be happy.
The only problem with this paradigm is… it is WRONG! In fact, over 200 studies show that the inverse is true: happiness precedes and predicts success. Happy people are more successful. [For more information about Shawn’s message, check out his powerful and entertaining TED talk.]
Happiness is not something we “do.” But, we can cultivate happiness by being intentional about being grateful. Robert Emmons, Professor at University of California, Davis, and author of Gratitude Works, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and wellbeing. His research verifies gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. Grateful people recover quicker from setbacks, are more loving, forgiving, and closer to God.
Sonja Lyubomirsky‘s research shows consistently grateful people are happier, more energetic and hopeful, more helpful, empathetic, religious, forgiving, as well as less materialistic, likely to be lonely, depressed, and anxious.
Best of all, we can choose to be more grateful. It’s as simple as taking a few minutes every day to write down what you are grateful for.
Having kept a gratitude journal consistently for almost ten years, I can attest to the benefits. Each morning when I write down what I’m grateful for, not only do I get to re-live the best parts of yesterday, but I also prime myself to be on the lookout for people and opportunities to be grateful for today. There are times when something cool is happening when the thought will flash through my mind, I can’t wait to write about this tomorrow – which increases my enjoyment of the present moment.
Reflection: What are three things I am grateful for over the past 24 hours?
Action: Commit to keeping a gratitude journal for 21-days starting today.