This week, I lost a dear friend of mine – Laura Holdcroft (Laura Kraemer). This episode is definitely dedicated to Laura. She was my roommate when I was studying, I was her Maid of Honour and she was just the most beautiful person inside and out.
As I was thinking of her, I really regretted not seeing her more often. We’d text and communicate but, I wish I would’ve seen her more often. It got me thinking, about how much I appreciated all the things that she taught me and brought into my life. The laugher, the chats, advice and just being free to be ourselves without judgement.
It got me thinking about others in my life. What was I grateful for.. It lead me to do some research, I know… I’m a consultant, I can’t help but research. I started to wonder what is the definition of gratitude. Harvard medical School had a great definition:
“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
There are so many definitions out there. What was fascinating to me was that there are 2 stages of gratitude according to Dr. Robert Emmons:
- The acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life. That we actually are saying YES to life.
- That some of the sources of this ‘goodness’ is coming from outside ourselves.
What I find wonderful about this art of recognizing and be grateful, is that this recognition is being done unconditionally and unprompted from something. We are not doing it as an exchange in return. We are doing it because something or someone has given us ‘something that is valuable to us and allows us to appreciate life’. It’s a really great article from positive psychology program. Read the Gratitude Appreciation here.
Then, I started to wonder what are the benefits of being grateful. We have learned the positive benefits for being vulnerable, but what about gratitude. I have been hearing about gratitude journals for years. Didn’t think much of them of them till today.
Robert Emmons did some research about the study of gratitude. Here were some interesting findings:
- Improved Well Being- being grateful made people more agreeable, open and less neurotic
- Relationships – tend to be more willing to forgive others and less narcissistic
- Optimism & Happiness – increased optimism, which makes sense because we’ve have learned that gratitude means that we are saying YES to Life. Which, apparently also reduces your inner fears. Love this one. This article from Wanderlustworker stated that it’s a hard to be fearful and grateful at the same time. I guess it makes sense. We are optimistic about the future.
- Stronger Self Control – This one surprised me. I’m just going to read what it says in this article. “Self-Control helps us to be disciplined and focused and to persist with what is subjectively the most important for our long-term well-being. A study by DeSteno et al. in 2014 found that self-control significantly increased when subjects chose gratitude over happiness and feeling neutral. One of the study’s authors, Professor Ye Li, said:
“Showing that emotion can foster self-control and discovering a way to reduce impatience with a simple gratitude exercises opens up tremendous possibilities for reducing a wide range of societal ills from impulse buying and insufficient saving to obesity and smoking.”
I had to digest this one for awhile to reconcile it in my head. I guess, if we are always thinking coulda, woulda shoulda and thinking about regrets, then we are looking backwards. But, if we starting to be more in the moment and appreciating the gifts that are around us, we tend to look to the future and about our future self vision and goals.
What I learned is that gratitude will give us an overall better life. It makes sense, we are in the moment not looking back. Seeing all the different elements that we appreciate and being thankful & grateful for these things. It would make life taste a little sweeter. By the way, this article had mentioned another study that was done by McCraty and colleagues in 1998 that stated that there was a 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.
So, being in the moment and being grateful, we ended up having better lives, stronger self control, lower level of stress and more. I’m in! I’ve definitely drank the Kool Aid.
But where to start?
- Listing all the people in your life that you appreciate. Your mom, dad, siblings, friends, colleagues etc… let’s not forget those mentors, those that inspire you, your boss, colleagues and so on. There are so people in your life that go above and beyond to make things easier for you.
- On that list, has there been someone that has done something that you truly appreciate, but may not have thanked them?
- What did you appreciate? Write it down.
- Send them a note or even a letter. Who gets thank you cards or letters anymore? What a double surprise to provide.
To my CanInnovate podcast listeners, I am really thankful that you invest in the time to hear me each week. I am always so grateful, when I get an email or review that told me what resonated with you. How it helped you. I often think that when I’m doing this episodes, that I’m just talking to myself. Like a little girl, pretending to hold an Oscar or pretending to do a cooking show. Those emails and messages that I get, are the most precious gift to me. So, I truly thank you all.
So, my dear friend Laura. I’m sooo grateful for having you in my life. You taught me how to be level headed and funny at the same time. Laura, used to work at Sick Kids Hospital in the Infectious disease division. Everytime I struggled with a problem at work and thought it was the end of the world. We’ve all had those moments. Laura, you always provided me with a real perspective. You really saw different dimensions of life. The good, the sad and the miracles. I thank you for all of those things.
I encourage each and everyone of you to take a pause and think about all the things that you’re grateful for.
In fact, I’ve had the Golden Girls theme song stuck in my head for the past few days. So, I thought I’d close with this.
Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.
And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew.
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend
Till next week
Have you checked out the episode about Vulnerability: Episode 58: Vulnerability – the New Advantage
Golden Girls YouTube Song
Articles mentioned in this blog:
The One-Minute Gratitude Journal by Brenda Nathan
The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day by Intelligent Change