Why aren’t we more grateful? (No really, why?)

Why aren’t we more grateful? (No really, why?) 150 150 Jason Lauritsen

It’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S. which marks the official start of our holiday season.

Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday because its meaning varies widely from person to person and family to family.

For some it’s about eating yourself into a food coma. For others, it’s an awkward day trying to avoid political conversations with your aunt Edna. For others, it’s a day to be resentful that you have to work when most others do not. Then there’s the football and, of course, the eve of the most obscene shopping day of the year: Black Friday.

In all of this, the underlying meaning of the holiday can sometimes be lost.

Giving thanks. 

For me, this time of year represents a reminder to pause very intentionally to reflect, express, and feel gratitude for all of the wonderful gifts and people in my life. Maybe you do the same.

But one day a year, even one month a year, is not nearly often enough to practice gratitude. And I don’t mean that in a touchy-feely, kumbaya way.

Gratitude can change our lives in profound ways. There’s no shortage of evidence that proves this out.

In a piece written by Dr. Randy Kamen called “The Transformative Power of Gratitude,” she references what research has revealed about the positive impacts of expressing gratitude (turns out there are many):

 In 2007, Robert Emmons began researching gratitude through a psychological lens. He found that expressing gratitude improves mental, physical and relational well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and these effects tend to be long-lasting.

Benefits of Gratitude

  • Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
  • Greater optimism and happiness
  • Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Heightened energy levels
  • Strengthened heart, immune system, and decreased blood pressure
  • Improved emotional and academic intelligence
  • Expanded capacity for forgiveness
  • Decreased stress, anxiety, depression, and headaches
  • Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
  • Heightened spirituality — ability to see something bigger than ourselves

In another article, Forbes contributor Amy Morin outlines seven scientifically-proven benefits of gratitude:

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health.
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

Both of those lists are pretty compelling. Who wouldn’t want these things?

And it’s not as if being grateful is unpleasant or hard work. It’s not. In fact, there are some very simple techniques that anyone can learn and practice to get better at it.  Both articles I referenced above share recommendations for how to do it.  A simple Google search for “Gratitude Techniques” reveals pages of helpful resources.

So, here’s my question.

If practicing daily gratitude is this effective and powerful at delivering positive outcomes in our life like health and happiness and it’s a simple skill to learn…

  1. Why aren’t we all doing it?
  2. Why aren’t we teaching others how to do it?

It seems to me that teaching gratitude should be a pretty powerful technique for improving employee engagement and workplace wellness with almost immediate results.

Why aren’t we all doing this?

Just something to ponder this Thanksgiving holiday.

Thank you for reading this. I’m grateful for you.

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Jason Lauritsen