More than a year ago, I wrote about how practicing gratitude can improve our chances of building win-win consensus. As Thanksgiving ’13 approaches, it’s a good time for an update.
Gratitude improves all aspect of health—physical, mental and spiritual. Gratitude improves your attitude, in particular, your optimism. Optimistic people, in turn, enjoy higher HDL, or good cholesterol, and better heart health. They also eat healthier and exercise regularly. Which is the cause and which the effect? All of the above. Optimism, heart health and a healthy lifestyle synergize with one another, spiraling upward.
Optimism and spiritual health can also make all the difference in the quality of our consensus-seeking interactions. When we expect good things, we relax, and our frame of mind is contagious. Both parties remain calm, which in turn, helps them think creatively.
In the original article, I described a daily practice of gratitude. Now, at least one recent study indicates that a daily routine of gratitude can make it lose its punch. It can become rote, or even seem like a chore, like so many others we perform every day.
So, you might prefer to save journaling about gratitude for special times, like Thanksgiving Day or when you particularly want to lift your spirits. I definitely recommend expressing thanks, mentally or in writing, before entering a consensus-seeking conversation.
If you like having a regular schedule, or want to be sure you don’t forget to practice gratitude for a long stretch of time, you might mark your calendar to list what you’re grateful once a week.
Some of my Facebook friends make a practice of posting something they’re grateful for every day in November, Thanksgiving month. I like this idea, and I don’t think the practice would grow stale in only one month.
Here’s another variation I intend to try this month (though I’m getting a late start since I only thought of it today): every day for the rest of the month, I mean to do something extra for someone else, something that will bring them increased optimism, or just a smile. Something such that, even if they don’t think the words, “I’m grateful this happened,” they feel the healthy feelings associated with gratitude.
This will be a win-win for me. It’s well known that giving to others increases happiness even more than receiving.
Today I started by sending an e-card to someone I admire, but don’t tell him often enough. I’ve been planning things I can do in the coming days—call someone who might be lonely, pay the grocery checker a specific compliment, donate to charity.
I invite you all to try this with me, and if you like, to share your experiences by way of comment to this blog.