With Thanksgiving around the corner, I have been thinking about thankfulness and gratitude. It seems like there’s a social trend of “if you can just be positive enough then everything is fine.” I don’t really buy into that concept, but I do want to be better at being grateful. I think being positive and being grateful can be two different things.
This may sound strange, but I feel like sometimes it’s easier for me to be grateful during really hard times. There’s something about challenging situations that helps us to remember the everyday things we take for granted, right? Sadly, a family friend lost almost everything during Hurricane Ian. They were overwhelmed with gratitude and talked about how lucky they were to have survived such a devastating storm. Their focus was on what they did have – namely their lives – and that was enough to give their hearts the gratefulness they needed to keep going.
But what about everyday life? When you are working through another routine day on the job or taking your kids to all their activities – how do you stay rooted in gratefulness on those days?
Psychology Of Gratitude
On today’s podcast episode, we spoke with Dr. Robert Emmons (a.k.a. Bob) who is the leading researcher on gratitude. His work focuses on the psychology of gratitude and joy as they relate to human flourishing and well-being.
Dr. Emmons told us that there are different ways to approach focusing on gratitude. Of course there are things like gratitude journals, but he says the best way to focus on gratitude is to integrate it organically into your natural life. In fact, even Bob, the gratitude expert, doesn’t keep a journal. He says that, for him, practicing gratitude is like breathing. It’s small choices all throughout the day.
Simple changes such as adjusting your language can change your perspective. Instead of thinking, “I have to do these things today” think, “I get to do these things today.” These minor phrasing changes shift your focus to gratitude.
Gratitude and Anxiety
During our conversation with Dr. Emmons, it made me wonder if these focus changes could be another tool in my toolkit against anxiety. It’s been scientifically proven, as Dr. Emmons explains, that gratitude improves performance in many areas such as in the workplace, in the classroom, and even on athletic fields. There is a certain calmness and energy that comes from focusing on gratitude. Dr. Emmons say this same calmness and energy can be a helpful tool in turning down the dial of anxiety. It was affirming to hear him say, however, that it’s not a cure all for anxiety.
I walked away from our conversation with Dr. Emmons feeling (no surprise here) very grateful. I honestly felt like I learned some new strategies for my own mental health. We also had a helpful discussion with some very practical pointers on how we can work to instill gratitude in our kids.
If you want more help on your path to being grateful, Dr. Emmons has a book, The Little Book Of Gratitude, which he describes as a small book, but one that is full of actionable and practical things you can keep coming back to. I personally think this would make a great stocking stuffer.
You can listen to our whole conversation on gratitude at any of the links below. And, I hope it doesn’t sound cheesy to say it here, but we truly are so very grateful for you!
- Acast: https://open.acast.com/public/streams/618c3caaa322d1001350082c/episodes/6372ce6a98d3ba0010a6bdd6.mp3
- Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-holderness-family-podcast/id1378725018?i=1000586229251
- Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3lTmNHuRU2moTPrFVZI2i2?si=bae879d852f44dbf
- Stitcher: https://listen.stitcher.com/yvap/?af_dp=stitcher://episode/208516478&af_web_dp=https://www.stitcher.com/episode/208516478&deep_link_value=stitcher://episode/208516478
- Pandora: https://pandora.app.link/91zpia8vYub
- Amazon: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/094464e9-aad9-4b09-8ee8-248c76b48bd6/episodes/a6fa336d-4727-47c4-b135-669633d75657/the-holderness-family-podcast-gratitude-is-the-new-mindfulness-with-dr-robert-emmons
Note: Some of the items in this blog include Amazon Affiliate links which earn a small commission.