Friday, June 10, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

Some of us on staff just came back from a workshop at the Mayo Clinic with Dr. Amit Sood on attention and interpretation.  The two-day experience included all the science behind why it’s beneficial to cultivate and practice things like gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning and purpose, and forgiveness.  The basics of the neuroscience are that these practices keep us in the higher cortical center of our brain, as opposed to the more “primitive” limbic system, and lead to lower stress and higher resilience (great qualities for leaders to have!). 

You can read more about the studies and brain science in Train Your Brain…Engage Your Heart…Transform Your Life, and you can begin a resilience building leadership practice right now.  This is my small thought about gratitude and something small and specific you can try today: 

Every day we do small acts for people that may cause them to respond with a “thank you.”  When these things happen I’ve caught myself replying “no problem,” meaning it’s not an inconvenience for me or isn’t a big deal.  Lately, I’ve been trying to be attentive to responding “you’re welcome” or even “I’m happy to” and think silently to myself how grateful I am to be able to do whatever small thing it is I’ve just done.  Whether or not someone says “thank you” for my action, I am trying to focus on gratitude.  I am grateful to be able to physically hold open a door; I am grateful for the sight that allows me to notice others around me; I am grateful for brief interactions and the positive energy they create.  Focusing on gratitude in these situations has helped me to find opportunities for gratitude all around me and more reasons for me to say “thank you” to others as well.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can change how we interpret what’s happing around us and is a small, daily way to move us just that much closer to a just, caring, thriving world.   

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