When I lived in San Francisco, I used to attend Glide Memorial church in the Tenderloin. I loved it because it was a self-proclaimed “counter-culture” church. There were people from different walks of life and Glide celebrated and accepted everyone. I’ll never forget seeing Reverend Douglas Fitch dance on the stage saying, “Ya’ll need to have an attitude of gratitude!” causing everyone in the pews to laugh and cheer him on. It turns out, he was right. Having an “attitude of gratitude” doesn’t cost anything and research indicates that the benefits of gratitude are enormous. It affects all aspects of our lives - which is why it’s often discussed in psychology circles. The impact of having a sense of gratitude has the potential to increase our basic happiness.
Shifting our mindset to something we’re happy about right now in our current situation is a start. Not always easy during a pandemic and when searching for a job but if we’re always looking for what’s next and always reaching and striving to attain big goals, it’s not an emotionally healthy place. It’s about recognizing the good instead of focusing on the bad. It’s about setting aside time in your day to write down what you’re most grateful for or even say it out loud in your private space. Research indicates that gratitude is so beneficial to our well being that it affects our sleep, it reduces depression and aggression. It even improves self-esteem and mental strength.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
So if it’s so important to have a sense of gratitude for our overall wellness, how do we cultivate more of it? Here are a few ideas taken from Harvard Health Publishing.
5 Ways to cultivate gratitude:
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
- Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
- Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual
- Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you've received each day.
- Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
- Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as "peace"), it is also possible to focus on what you're grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).
Cheers to more gratefulness in all our lives. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
-Emily & Nick
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and media professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide resources to support professionals with 20+ years experience. Emily was part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on the benefits of an intergenerational team.