27 September 2023

Gratitude in a virus free zone

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Michelle Gibbings* says that despite the seemingly endless difficulties we are facing today, there is still plenty to look forward to and be grateful for.

When I was growing up, my mum always taught me not to use the ‘C’ word because it was rude.

Now I am making an assumption you know the ‘C’ word of which I am referring.

Of course, the ‘C’ word on everyone’s lips these days is different.

Once again, I am not going to use it.

I am creating a ‘C’-free zone.

This approach is not to put my head in the sand, because what we are facing is serious.

However, it is to balance out the commentary — and let’s be honest, who wants to read another opinion piece from someone on this topic?

In this ‘C’-free zone, we are starting by flipping the lens, and looking at all the things that are amazing in this world and the good things we have in front of us.

What are you grateful for right now?

As I sit and write this message, I am grateful for each of you — and that you take the time to read this.

I am thankful for my family and friends and that there are people I can reach out and talk with.

I am grateful that I live in a world that is full of wonder.

Gratitude isn’t a word that is easily defined.

It can be classified as an emotion, a habit, a personality trait or an attitude.

It derives from the Latin word ‘gratus’, which means pleasing and thankful.

Robert Emmons (University of California) and Michael McCullough (University of Miami) write as follows:

“As an emotion, gratitude is an attribution-dependent state that results from a two-step cognitive process.

“The first is recognising that one has obtained a positive outcome.

“The second is recognising that there is an external source for this positive outcome.”

We can be grateful for what others have done for us, just as we can be thankful for what we have.

It is so easy to focus on what we don’t have, and yet it is the practice of focusing on what we have that helps us live happier and more fulfilled lives.

As well, studies reveal how gratitude is a precursor to pro-social behaviour, and by that I mean behaviour that is positive and helpful towards others.

In experiments, participants who were primed to feel more grateful before participating in a task were more helpful than those who weren’t.

They also spent more time helping another person with a tedious task if they were primed with gratitude.

So take some time today, and ideally every day, to write down the three things you are most grateful for.

You may be surprised at what you find.

American author, Zig Ziglar said this:

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.”

*Michelle Gibbings is a Melbourne-based change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian. She can be contacted at [email protected].

This article first appeared at changemeridian.com.au.

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