Last week, I was at my Mastermind Meeting and my good friend and Smart Woman, Chellie Campbell, mentioned that she had read an article on how expressing gratitude may be one of the keys to being a happier, healthier person. The very next day, I picked up a magazine which actually cited compelling research on how being grateful or showing appreciation can lead to a happier, healthier, more productive life. Hmmm… two times in two days? This got me thinking about how Smart Women practice gratitude.
When we look for new ways to up our happiness quotient, we typically go out and buy a new pair of shoes or a new purse. Maybe we go to the spa for a day. And when it’s time to think about getting healthy, the first idea that comes to mind is, “I need to exercise more and eat less.” The article I read in the September issue of Body and Soul was about a 9-week study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology where one group kept a daily gratitude journal and the other group kept a list of the hassles in their lives. At the end of the 9 weeks, the thankful group appeared happier, healthier, and had spent more time exercising—up to 80 minutes more per week. The other group stayed the same with little or no change in attitude or health.
I view myself as a grateful person. However, this article gave new meaning to this simple, but not always easy to follow, practice. It’s simple because all you have to do is think positive, grateful “thank you” thoughts. It’s not always easy because some days feel like a big challenge. When you are having “one of those days” (and ladies, you know what I’m referring to), it’s easy to revert back to “woe is me.”
I have found myself becoming a more grateful woman over the last few years. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I was in the “pursuit of happiness” in the form of new cars, clothes, lavish vacations, etc. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I find myself more grateful for things that have less material value: walking my children to school, holding their small hands, enjoying a deep and meaningful conversation with my husband or a trusted friend.
How about you? Do you practice gratitude often? Do you find yourself thinking about how grateful you are for things in your life that hold less material value? Shifting your attention to what’s most important in your life—what you value—will support you in your ability to adopt the gratitude habit. Women who are living lives full of passion and purpose find this easy to do. They have pressed the “pause button” on their lives and have spent time getting very clear on what’s truly most important for them moving forward. They release what’s no longer serving them and take on more of what matters.
Making gratitude a priority in your life requires positive thinking on a regular basis. It also requires “being present.” When I learned that it can lead to increased happiness and better health, I made a commitment to my daily practice of exercising gratitude. It doesn’t take any more of my time and I don’t have to go anywhere to do it. So, in my dream to support women toward an extraordinary life, I’ve decided to have a weekly gratitude journal here in the “Reflections” newsletter. I’ll share my gratitude journal with you and invite you to take a moment, even if it’s once a week, to pause and reflect on what you’re grateful for. What am I grateful for this week? I am grateful for:
- My husband’s “thumbs up” health checkup at the doctor
- The crossing guard at my children’s school
- Not getting a parking ticket yesterday when I had exceeded my meter time by 30 minutes (a real blessing in Los Angeles!)
© 2008 Joy Chudacoff
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