Attitude of Gratitude
By: Katie Nehl, Communications Manager
It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner and 2019 is nearing an end. For my family, Thanksgiving tradition includes getting together with my mom’s side of the family. That means cowboy boots are piled in the entry way of my aunt and uncle’s house, laughter fills the rooms, tons of hugs are given and a great time is shared by all. It’s the time of year when grandma makes her fabulous pies; my cousins, dad, brother and uncles all surround the TV to watch the Dallas Cowboys football game after lunch; and all us ladies of the family take a brisk walk to burn off our food, no matter how cold it is.
Prior to Thanksgiving lunch, we also have a tradition of going around in a circle before we eat to say what we’re thankful for. Whether that is family, food, good health, being loved, a roof over our heads, good jobs, etc., we know, there is always something to be thankful for and it’s important to share what we’re thankful for. Often times as November and the holidays roll around, we count our blessings a little bit more, but in all reality, we shouldn’t need a holiday to be thankful. Practicing gratitude can not only help your attitude and outlook on life, but be overall extremely beneficial. Here are a few reasons why it’s important to have an attitude of gratitude, both this holiday season and always:
Gratitude Makes Us Happier: It’s all too easy to get caught up in negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, and regret. These emotions can destroy our happiness, but only if we let them. According to a study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality, showing gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of sadness and depression. The more gratitude you have, the happier you are, as you can’t feel envious and grateful at the same time. If you’re grateful, you can’t resent someone for having something that you don’t. Better yet, if you are already happy, gratitude can only make you happier and simply lift your mood. When you express gratitude, your brain releases the good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and Oxycontin, according to clinical psychologist Philip Watkins. These good chemicals is what not only makes us happier, but others around us, including coworkers, friends, family and even strangers. In addition, gratitude can improve your self-esteem and can be contagious!
Gratitude Makes You Healthier: Gratitude reduces stress and increases emotional resilience, which in turn can make you healthier. It’s even shown to boost your immune system. In addition, those apt to show more gratitude often try to not only manage their stress, but eat healthier and exercise. When people have gratitude, they often are given the perspective from which they can guard against negative events, post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.
Gratitude Improves Relationships: Being grateful is the glue that can hold couples together; hold companies together and just in general strengthen relationships of all kinds. No one wants to be around that negative person—and let’s be honest, we’ve all been that person at some point or another. The grateful and happy person is the one your coworkers are more apt to want to hang out with, come running to or even invite for lunch. You are, plain and simple, more likable when you’re more grateful. In addition, gratitude can help you connect and empathize with others, which can highly improve your relationship with members, family, loved ones or coworkers. Just think—a person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected of them. By showing someone you’re grateful for them, telling them you’re proud of them, or even that you appreciate the work they’ve been doing—that person they will be more likely to go out of their way to make you happy, work harder and give you more. Whether you surprise your spouse with flowers or an unexpected spur of the moment trip, or perhaps you bring your coworkers coffee and donuts or even simply tell stop into their office to tell them “thank you”—whatever it may be and however you choose to show a little extra gratitude, just note, it will improve your relationships.
Gratitude Helps us to not be only Self Serving: The holiday season is when we often see people give more to charity, people reach out to help food pantries, more people volunteering to ring the red kettle bells, and even more people paying for the person behind them in the drive through, hoping that person will “Pay it Forward.” It’s easy to believe when you’re grateful, you have the sense that someone else is looking out for you—someone else has provided for your well-being, or you notice a network of relationships, past and present, of people who are responsible for helping you get to where you are right now. You can start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life—once you realize that other people have seen the value in you—you can transform the way you see yourself and not be only self-serving, but grateful with a pay it forward attitude. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, without support from my family, friends, additional loved ones, and past and present coworkers who continually have supported me.
Gratitude Can Give you a Career Boost: No matter what your position is in life, if you’re a CPA, Marketing Guru, a Rancher, McDonald’s Server or even the CEO of your credit union, gratitude can improve your career. According to Forbes magazine, being grateful can increase productivity, and enhance your decision-making skills. It also can help you be a better manager, in addition to better understanding your customers, co-workers and clients. And, grateful people often are the ones who learn to be thankful in the worst of times, therefore fostering resilience.
It’s easy to focus on the bad media, especially with all the negativity that’s put right in front of us, rather than the good, heartfelt news. We can get caught up in a “poor me” attitude when something goes wrong. We forget to have an attitude of gratitude in not only the best, but the worst of times. It can seem hard, but having an attitude of gratitude has so many increasingly, amazing benefits, sure to help not only you, but those around you.
My challenge to you is to take some time today, or on Thursday at your family Thanksgiving, and come up with a gratitude list. Another idea, would be to adopt the tradition that my family has: where we go around the table saying what we’re thankful for. No, some people aren’t natural gratitude givers and thinkers, so this may be a difficult task. If it doesn’t come naturally, don’t let that stop you from still giving thanks. There is still much to be thankful for, if we only have eyes to see and remember, it’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.
Happy Thanksgiving on behalf of FCCU!