Keri DePatis, PharmD, PGY-2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Resident, Palm Beach Atlantic University
Amy Henneman, PharmD, BCACP, BCPS, CDE, PGY-2 Ambulatory Care and PGY-1 Residency Program Director, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Palm Beach Atlantic University
As the most “Thankful Thursday” of the year (Yes, I’m talking about Thanksgiving!) quickly approaches, society reminds itself to be grateful. Gratitude has been defined as a state of being thankful or a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Dr. Brené Brown highlights the importance of gratitude in many of her books and interviews, stating, “I went into the research thinking that the relationship between joy and gratitude was: if you are joyful, you should be grateful. But it wasn’t that way at all. Instead, practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.”
Throughout November, you’ll likely see many of your Facebook friends participating in “The Gratitude Challenge” by posting about the people, places, and things they are most grateful for every day of the month. Maybe you’ll hop on the bandwagon and give the “Gratitude Challenge” a try this year; or maybe your personal gratitude practices are limited to Thanksgiving day, right before you dig into the feast and spend the rest of the day in a blissful tryptophan-induced coma.
What if we didn’t limit our gratitude practices to a single day or month? What if we made it a priority to practice an attitude of gratitude every day of the year? Research has shown gratitude is associated with lower levels of burnout and can contribute to improvements in mood, depression, stress, and happiness. Particularly when paired with mindfulness. At this point, you might be thinking “This sounds great, but I really don’t have the time to add another thing to my daily ‘to-do’ list.” Practicing gratitude does not have to be time consuming. Starting a gratitude practice can be as simple as taking a few minutes to write down what you are grateful for each day. In fact, Emmons & McCullough, 2003 showed that daily gratitude journaling resulted in greater levels of positive affect, more sleep, better sleep quality, and greater optimism and sense of connectedness to others.
Here are a few ways you can start to practice an attitude of gratitude, both at home and in the workplace:
Be an encourager. Don’t wait until Christmas to embody the essence of “Secret Santa.” Start a “Secret Encouragers” group and use your stealth to send encouraging notes to colleagues throughout the year.
Say thank you. When was the last time you actually thanked a colleague? I’m not talking about an off-handed ‘Thanks!’ for holding the door, but to express a sincere appreciation for their contributions. It’s time to give it a try. Thank your colleague for reviewing your manuscript or spending hours on a committee project. Recognize their hard work – it’ll make the day a little brighter for both of you!
Keep a gratitude journal. Take a few minutes at the beginning or end of each day to write down 5 things that you are grateful for. Start small and begin with a short list. If you find it beneficial, you can expand your journaling to full sentences or paragraphs.
Say it out loud. If writing isn’t your shtick, say the things you are grateful for out loud every day. This can be while you’re alone in the car on the way to work, or you can recruit your family into your gratitude practice and go around the table each night before eating to express your gratitude.
Keep a mason jar for “gratitude drops.” Write at least one thing you are grateful for on a slip of paper and drop it into the mason jar each day. Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living.
Create a “gratitude board.” Start a board in your home or at work and post pictures or other mementos of the people, places, and things you are most grateful for. Put it in a place that you pass by frequently – it’ll be a nice daily reminder of the positivity that surrounds you.
Regardless of the gratitude practice you choose, whether it be one from above or your own original idea, practicing gratitude consistently will help spark joy in your everyday life. Consider using the month of November as a springboard for choosing an attitude of gratitude every day of the year, and you may be surprised as to how it changes your perspective.
- O’Leary, K., & Dockray, S. The effects of two novel gratitude and mindfulness interventions on well-being. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(4):243-5.
- Roberts, P. Three Good Things: Build resilience and improve well-being. American Nurse Today. 2018;13(12):26-28. Retrieved from https:// www.americannursetoday.com/three-goodthings-build-resilience-and-improve-well-being/.
- Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2003;84(2):377-89.