Even though many of us will be having a Thanksgiving this year that is very different from the norm, it’s still the time of year to count our blessings and be grateful for all we have.
You probably recognize that at home and at work, gratitude can help relationships and improve your outlook. It can even lower your blood pressure and keep you from getting sick. In fact, there’s an entire body of research that focuses on the health benefits of practicing gratitude. Multiple studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being and helps people apply this research to their personal and professional lives. The center highlights the work of two professors from Indiana University involving subjects who wrote letters sharing their emotions. Their study showed that expressing gratitude “produces better mental health by shifting one’s attention away from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy. When you write about how grateful you are to others and how much other people have blessed your life, it becomes considerably harder for you to ruminate on your negative experiences.”
While it’s impossible to ignore the loss and hardship faced by people around the world in 2020, science has shown the health benefits of looking for those bright spots in our lives and acknowledging even the tiniest reason to be appreciative.
So, whether you are considering events at work or at home, I hope you’ll join me in pausing to reflect on how gratitude is an important responsibility for us this year – particularly as leaders. While the events of the past year have impacted everyone in vastly different ways, we can actively use gratitude to shift away from the negative, and more fully embrace the good.
Let’s all be reminded that no matter how difficult life can get, we must still value all – and all those – we do have.