Getting better at getting better is what Rise With Drew is all about.
Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something about myself or what we at PCI are doing in our quest to earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
Two years ago, I participated in philosopher Brian Johnson’s Heroic Coach program. The culmination of the program is a deep dive into what Brian calls the “fundamentals”: sleeping, eating, moving, breathing, focusing, celebrating, and prospering. Today we take a look at the role gratitude plays in prospering.
One group of participants was asked to write down three things they were grateful for at the end of the day. Another group was asked to write down childhood memories. Both groups did the exercise for one week. When the researchers followed up, those who had written down three good things were happier and less depressed up to six months later.
The researchers were surprised by the long-term impact of a short exercise. When they looked into it, it turned out those who had experienced the long-term benefit hadn’t stopped writing down things they were grateful for after a week. They enjoyed the experience so much they kept at it.
“People who are consistently grateful have been found to be relatively happier, more energetic, and more hopeful and to report experiencing more frequent positive emotions,” writes Professor Sonja Lyumbomirsky in The How of Happiness. “They also tend to be more helpful and empathic, more spiritual and religious, more forgiving, and less materialistic than others who are less predisposed to gratefulness.”
Gratitude also results in increased resilience and protection from envy and bitterness. There are even physical and mental health benefits: Those who report being grateful also sleep better and exercise more. And, “the more a person is inclined to gratitude, the less likely he or she is to be depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, or neurotic,” Sonja reports.
What is there to be grateful for? So much! Perhaps we begin by freshly appreciating the people and basic good things in our life. We can appreciate qualities of our spouse, our kids, our friends, our clients. We’ve been given so many precious gifts. Life itself is an incredible Blessing. The idea of being “self-made” is an illusion, Michael Fishman tells us. “There are many people who played divine roles in [us] having the life that [we] have today.”
We truly stand upon the shoulders of generations and generations of our ancestors. What about the modern conveniences that are so easy to take for granted. To say nothing of the big ideas like democracy, freedom, and capitalism, which have such a profound but hidden impact on our lives.
What’s the opposite of gratitude? Entitlement. Entitlement is TOXIC. One of my least favorite words in the English language is “deserve.” As in, “I deserve that.” Really? Yes, we have the God-given ability to earn something. And then, if we are wise, we are grateful for it.
More next week!
Reflection: What are three things I am grateful for today?
Action: Write them down. Repeat for a week. Or longer.