The Power of Gratitude

A couple of years ago I read a fascinating and very practical book called “Positivity” by Barbara Fredrickson, PhD.  In the book, Dr. Fredrickson discusses her Broaden and Build Theory of positivity and the power of positivity to transform our lives.  Her theory states that positive emotions such as love, joy, and gratitude, promote new and creative actions, ideas, and social bonds which open us up to new possibilities and that these positive emotions can be drawn upon in times of stress to enhance our resilience and well-being. 

One of these positive emotions, gratitude, has been consistently shown to help people feel more positive, to savor positive experiences, to improve physical and emotional health and well-being, enhance empathy, improve sleep, improve self-esteem, manage adversity more effectively, and build strong relationships.  The sky is the limit when it comes to how to practice gratitude and with Tuesday, September 21st being World Gratitude Day there is no better time to practice.

Here are some ways you might be interested in practicing gratitude:

  • Say thank you and be specific, or, better yet, write a thank-you and put in the mail.  Who doesn’t love to get a heartfelt card?  Make it a habit and commit to sending one card a month.  The more specific you can be the more effective it will be for you and for the recipient.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.  At the end of the day write down one thing you’re grateful for and try to make it something different each day.  Get an additional boost by sharing it with someone and as them to do the same. 
  • Do a random act of kindness and savor the positive emotions you experience.  Doing something good for others always feels good.
  • Acknowledge and affirm the good you’ve received.  Relax, soak it in and savor the positive emotions you experience in those moments.
  • Spend time in nature and notice the beauty around you…the smell of a flower, the grandeur of a tree, the colors of the sky…there is so much beauty around us.  Let nature be a source of gratitude for you.

And, in case you were wondering, yes, there is an app for that.  For our Cigna members, check out the free Happify app.  It starts with a short series of questions that help establish your “happiness score.” The app then customizes your experience and offers over sixty interactive programs, including self-reflection activities, articles, audio content, webinars and more to enhance your level of happiness and well-being.  It’s designed to fit into a busy person’s life with personalized, bite-size activities, based on the best practices of gaming science and behavioral therapeutic disciplines. 

Practicing gratitude is easy and free and it has a ripple effect.  “The more gratitude going around, the more human connections are being made, and the more collaboration, engagement, and innovation across the organization. Moreover, when recognition is given frequently throughout the year, the impact of that positive reinforcement is even greater” (Mosley, 2019).  So, on Tuesday, September 21st, I urge you to join me in practicing gratitude.  Let’s see how our small act can transform the world around us.