This time of year I tend to think a lot about gratitude. I’m grateful for Alethea’s help this year. I’m thankful to all of the individuals and teams that allow us to do our good work. I’m grateful for Christine and her cafeteria team for keeping us well fed and happy with cookies during long meetings. I’m thankful for Barbara’s hard work. I’m thankful for Elizabeth who cleans my office each evening. I’m grateful for all of the acts of kindness.
Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina, has studied the effect of positive feelings, including gratitude. Research tells us that cultivating gratitude can actually undo the effects of negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety. Her team has also found that feeling grateful can broaden our thinking, which in turn builds optimism. They have found that gratitude can broaden people’s mindsets and inspire future compassionate acts. Infusing meaning to ordinary life events by expressing appreciation and gratitude, even for simple things, cultivates positive emotions, which in turn improves our health, both physical and mental. It even helps us live longer.
Another study by researchers from the University of California at Davis and the University of Miami showed improvements in general wellbeing associated with being thankful. They studied three groups. One group kept a daily log of hassles/complaints, another group listed life events that affected them, and the third group wrote down things each day for which they were grateful. After three weeks, those in the latter group who kept a gratitude list exhibited heightened wellbeing across several of the outcome measures of the study. They felt healthier and more energetic, and had a greater overall feeling of wellbeing than those in the other groups.
So, being thankful can have very positive exponential effects. I would also add to the list that showing gratitude has the power to improve relationships, make new connections with individuals, and open all kinds of doors.
I’m thankful for all of you who make ASL a special place.