Today’s topic is more simple than most but the most important!
THANK YOU. Thank you to those who are reading and following along. A special thank you to those who have texted, shown support and shared your own stories! And, I can’t forget those I’ve mentioned in blog posts for being such a big part of my life. It has been 3 months since I woke up and decided to do this and so far it has been super fun. The best part is hearing from everyone and connecting with you all! With the greatest sincerity, I appreciate you!
This expression of thankfulness, leads us to the second topic today: sustained gratitude. Also known as sustained positive emotion.
Many years ago, a great friend and I were talking after I moved from PA to NC. To put things in perspective: the first few months of moving was fairly difficult. This was largely due to the large cultural shift I experienced. Just think, I moved from a large northeastern city (where shirts literally said, “I’m not angry, I’m from Philly”) to a quint, cute, put together southern ‘city’ (where everyone greeted one another, smiled and said, “hey”.).
A good friend
During this phone call, my friend informed me about sustained gratitude. Side note: I realize not all people have friends that give them researched advice. I sincerely would consider this friend my family at this point. Not only have we known one another almost are entire lives, we truly care about one another’s well-being. This example alone reminds me how fortunate I am to have this particular person in my life!
After our conversation, I seriously considered how to reframe some of the things I was experiencing. In addition, I started a daily gratitude practice. This practice consisted of setting a timer for 5 minutes and writing down free thoughts on everything I was grateful for. After about 3 days, I felt a shift in my openness, I dropped some of my natural defensiveness AND even started to wave and say, “hey” back to my friendly passer-bys!
This small shift was so effective to my daily life. One of the best parts is having a written log of some amazing things, but also realizing how grateful I am for simple, everyday things.
Over the years, when I have found myself feeling a bit off or getting too much in my head about anything, I restart this practice. Maintaining it for a handful of days at least and typically a month at a time, it has a re-centering effect.
Some may think this is overly simple, however the way I understand and practice sustained gratitude is as follows:
- Use a notes app on my phone, computer or taking out my journal
- Set a timer for 5 minutes
- Write single words or full sentences on anything that pops into my mind as something I am grateful for
Some suggest doing this morning and night, I happen to do it once per day and typically no longer time myself. Timing myself in the beginning was extremely helpful. I do recommend writing it down, mostly because my mind tends to wander if I don’t.
Sometimes I start out with the name of a person, sometimes I list my dogs or a good meal I’ve had. Other times I list the weather, my education or my pay check.
This week I am taking a class at work which is providing great value. It has led to feelings of appreciation over my career, my company and everything that got me to this point. I also of course list the class itself and each of my colleagues that is taking it with me.
Recently, I was able to get outside and watch my favorite sport. Another example is that my particular position is able to be done remotely which kept me working full-time during this current pandemic. The most common things on my lists are: people, food, nature and my dog (go figure).
What are some of the positive effects, as tested by science?
This article by UC Davis answers based on research: https://health.ucdavis.edu/medicalcenter/features/2015-2016/11/20151125_gratitude.html
- Lower stress hormone
- Decreased depression
- Less fatigue
- Better sleep quality
How to get started?
First, I would recommend something as simple as taking this quiz. My results are below, I scored an 89 out of 105. There are a handful of questions I didn’t particular resonate with. However, overall this is a great starting point. I’ve also embedded the quiz below so you don’t have to navigate away 🙂
Second, use the steps above (take out paper and a pen, set a timer and just start writing!)
Thirdly, practice. In the true sense of practice (yes I hope you are all thinking about Allen Iverson now)… ANYWAY, seriously practice, each day set your timer and write away. Gradually your list will get longer, 5 minutes will not be enough and you will start to see the impact!