Gratitude - it's a powerful practice

Mandy Scotney - Third Collective

Mandy is the founder of Third Collective and combines 25 years commercial leadership experience with her passion for people, serving others and making a difference. Mandy is qualified with a Bachelor of Business (HR Major), and a Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy. She is an exceptional business coach, consultant, facilitator and therapist. Mandy has founded Third Collective with the idea that we all need a third place - a place that's not home, that's not work. A place where we can connect and communicate and just be ourselves and where real people can get real help - be that through life transitions, difficult decisions, loss or grief, or anxiety and worry. You can read more about Mandy and Third Collective's work at www.thirdcollective.com.au


Being grateful.

It’s a powerful practice and there’s plenty of research that suggests feeling & expressing gratitude can help us feel happier. It’s been associated with helping us to feel more positive emotions, improving health, building resilience and supporting us through periods of adversity.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.

One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and went to the doctor less than those who focused on what had annoyed them.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, the founder of ‘positive psychology’, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week's assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Studies like this don’t prove cause and effect. But most of the studies published on this topic support the idea that there is a strong link between gratitude and your happiness & wellbeing.

Some gratitude practices to try

Write a thank-you note. Similar to the experiment above, write a thank you letter to someone in your life. It may be someone you’ve not had the opportunity to thank before. Or perhaps someone you see so often, you feel like it’s unspoken.

I did this once with my Dad. It meant the world to him. And then he wrote me back, telling me how proud he was of me; words I’d never heard him say out loud.

GratefulKeep a gratitude journal. Every day write down the things you are grateful for. Some days you might have to dig pretty deep to find them, but if you practice discipline around this - no matter how bad the day was - you’ll notice the benefits. Life shifts when we find something to be grateful for, even on those days it’s a struggle.

Finally, as you move through your day, find opportunities to thank people. Mindfully. Making eye contact, and being specific. It might be thanking someone you live with for being great to share space with, your family, a co-worker, the barista who makes your coffee and smiles.

Gratitude is a powerful practice - and available to you every day.


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