01 May The science of dreaming big: GRATITUDE
Recently, I had the honor of speaking to an awesome group from the International Association of Administrative Professionals… and we talked about the subject of…
stress and worry.
Now… if there ever was a group of people who deserved to be stressed and worried… it was these incredible people.
It was a room full of administrative professionals.
You know who they are. They are the unsung heroes in your office. They are the people that most of our important paperwork and tasks route through… but they rarely get the flashy titles or the plaques of accommodation.
Well… as we were digging into strategies that help you to overcome worry and stress… we landed on one specific concept that the group loved.
That’s right… gratitude. It’s a simple word… but a powerful concept.
Interestingly enough… it can also be something to help you overcome worry and stress.
Studies have shown that you can not only cultivate gratitude… but as you do… your body starts to produce increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. Now these bad boys are your body’s natural anti-depressants. They’ve also been shown to increase your ability to retain information and think more clearly.
Plus… since they are naturally produced anti-depressants… you don’t have to worry if they are on your ever-changing insurance prescription plan!
But it gets better.
Studies have found that the longer you cultivate gratitude… the more impact it has.
For example, one study published in American Psychologist found that if participants in a study wrote down three good things each day for a week… they would be happier and less depressed.
Now, you might say… “Sure. That makes sense.” But if you’re like me, you might also be asking, “But does it last?”
This study continued on and found that if participants continued to look for three good things a day… they continued to be happier and less depressed at one-month, three-months and six-months!
Oh… but wait there’s more! (Read this is a cheesy game show announcer voice for extra effect!)
The longer the participant went… the longer the effect. Even when the group stopped the daily exercise, researchers found that the “Gratitude Group” stayed happier and less depressed than the control group.
The conclusion: Researchers found that the study group had trained their brains to look for things to be grateful for and that started to change the way they looked at the world. So this little exercise of writing down three good things… changed them on the inside (increased levels of dopamine and serotonin) and changed them on the outside (their view of the world).
I can tell you that this works.
As many of you know… I’m a “worrier in recovery.”
I grew up a ninja-level worrier. I am exceedingly better now… but I can go from being fine to freaked in 3.2 seconds… if I don’t control it! (Can you identify?)
But this list exercise is now a part of my daily regimen. And I love it.
One… because it’s simple. Two… because it’s quick. Three… because it helps me to think more creatively and focus. And four… because I can also work it into my daily conversation with my family, friends or biz partners.
Now, I will say that what tends to work best for me is to write these things down in a journal each morning (and even go beyond three some days)… but even if I can’t get to the writing… I do bring it up as I’m talking with people.
Yeah… I’ve got to get my “3” daily.
So here it is: The 30-Day Gratitude Challenge
Challenge yourself to think of three to five things that you are grateful for every day.
They don’t have to be HUGE things like trips to Disney World. And they don’t have to be wildly profound either. They can be simple things like a really good meal… a really good laugh with friends… or a really nice convo with a friend.
The key is they have to be specific.
You can’t just say… “I’m grateful for my family, my friends and my dog.”
You need to think about something specific. Like… “I’m grateful for the way Fido was at the side of my bed this morning. That made me laugh and feel good.”
But that’s it.
Just three things.
Three specific things… daily.