Gratitude as a Stress Buster

 

I heard something in an interview with Yanik Silver, an incredibly accomplished internet marketer, that caught me off guard.

What he said was so atypical of our culture.

 While the interview was about his journey starting an internet business from scratch to running a multi-million dollar enterprise, the interviewer threw out a somewhat random question near the end.

 The question went something like this:

 “What do you do on those days when things are going wrong, when you’re dealing with obnoxious customers, the technology is melting down and you want to throw your PC out the window? Do you rant to your buddies, do you complain to your wife…what do you do?”

 From her question, it was clear she was expecting him to share how he engages in some kind of “blow off steam” behavior.

 His answer was that when it gets to that point,  he stops and writes about the things he feels grateful for.

Reduce Stress By Letting It Rip…or Not?

 Decades of research shows that while venting anger might feel good in the moment, it does not reduce our anger in the long term.

In fact, it increases the odds we will react angrily in the future.

As one scientist put it, venting “teaches you to be good at getting angry.”

 If you want to read more about the research on venting and it’s effects, check out:

 http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102344514

 http://www.nytimes.com/1983/03/08/science/venting-anger-may-do-more-harm-than-good.html

The Power of Gratitude

 There’s also lots of research emerging about the positive emotional and health effects of experiencing and expressing gratitude.

 If you’re interested in learning more, check out these two websites:

 http://www.thepositivitycompany.com/Page-32.html

 http://changing-personal-habits.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychological_research_gratitude

 Gratitude Practices

  Here are simple gratitude practices I find helpful.

1. Before going off to sleep, I say a little gratitude prayer, giving thanks to the special people in my life.

2. I reflect on times my life was spared while driving. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve had a close call while driving, the relief and gratitude you immediately had over the fact you just “dodged a bullet” is quickly forgotten?

One moment, with heart pounding, we think “Wow, thank God that didn’t happen!” We feel so relieved that we just escaped calamity. Then, soon after, we’re caught up in the drama of the day and we forget that our life was spared.

What could have altered our life course forever in a very damaging way is quickly forgotten. Our good fortune, taken for granted.

How ungrateful!

Taking these times for granted robs us of opportunities to feel deep gratitude…and receive the benefits of gratitude.

So…we can switch that around by intentionally recalling such instances and feeling gratitude well up inside of us.

3. Every now and then, I remember to give thanks for the “little helpers” in my life, such as: running water, a washer and drier, a microwave, and a car that starts even on very cold days.

When doing seminars on resilience and talking about the practice of giving thanks for our “little helpers”, I often ask to see a show of hands of those who have had a time in their lives when they went from having a washer and drier in their home, to having to go to the laundromat.

I then ask them if they found themselves having a whole new level of appreciation for their washer and drier, when they acquired them again. That question is always met with knowing nods and smiles.

Try these simple practices, or…if you really want to amp up the benefits of gratitude, check out the gratitude research on the effects of people writing in a gratitude journal each evening, and try that approach.

The Power of Expressing Gratitude

 In a future post, we’ll explore the power of expressing gratitude to others, including some of the research showing the impact it has.

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