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Giving Thanks to Thrive

November is here! It’s cool, it’s crisp and perhaps now is when you stop to think about those who helped you this year. November brings to the American calendar a number of opportunities to say thank you in very public ways. We have Veteran’s Day where we can acknowledge the commitment, service and oftentimes sacrifice members of our Armed Forces and their families have made for the safety and security of the country. We have Thanksgiving, which started out in 1621 with the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians sharing an autumn harvest feast. How true is that? I don’t know but that’s what we’re taught in history class! Thanksgiving has become more of an opportunity to share the day with family and friends, often around a large meal.

But the title of this piece is “Giving Thanks to Thrive” and really, that’s possible! Giving thanks, or put another way, showing our gratitude, has been shown to lower anxiety, lessen depression, help with sleep, better overall health, and a higher rate of happiness with life. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” – this from Harvard’s Health Newsletter in their November 2011 piece, “In Praise of Gratitude.” What’s not to love in this list for one who is Striving to Thrive?

Several studies back up these statements including work from Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami. In one of their studies they asked 3 groups of college students to write weekly with a different focus for each group. One group focused on what they were grateful for, one group what irritated them and a third group what had affected them. Care to guess which group reported feeling more optimistic and better about their lives? Indeed, the group which focused on the positive! This group also reported exercising more and visited the doctor’s office less frequently. Pretty impressive outcome.

In business we know that saying thank you to employees for a job well done or their hard work has the effect of motivating them. (Wharton School of Business) As a Thriver you also know the power of saying thank you to a referral source, business associate and potential clients is huge! Sometimes it’s the thank you that will later seal people’s positive impression of you.

How to do this? As a Thriver I’m sure you’re already in the habit of saying ‘thank you’. Can you be mindful to expand the circle of people you say it to? Perhaps if you notice a Veteran stopping her and saying, “Thanks for your service”. Or thanking the person stocking the shelf at your grocery store? Meditation, especially mindful meditation, is helpful in developing this skill of being in the now and resisting the temptation to be judgmental.

Are there some folks in your life who are a bit more challenging? Perhaps for them you could attempt to single out something positive about them which you could compliment them on or thank them for.

Oftentimes those who do us a great service or who make our lives a bit easier go unrecognized for their effort. If you can, it’s nice to seek out their manager or boss and let them know how much you appreciate the effort and time taken.

And now it’s my turn to say thank you to you! This month marks 14 months since I started this journey and it’s been a pleasure to have spent that time with you! Thanks!

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