In this season of giving and receiving good manners are important …but keeping up the habit of gratitude is essential for our health!
People saying ‘thank you’ when they receive a gift or a kindness has long been an obsession of mine – so the deeper importance of gratitude was a particular interest to me. Coincidently, as I started to write this article a few things happened – I think as a nudge from the Universe!
The first was a Facebook post from Mindfulness Ireland suggesting if we spend 2 minutes a day for 21 days scanning for what we are grateful for, we can retrain our brain to be optimistic. Then out of the blue in the post I received a storybook ‘Giraffe’s Can’t Dance’ from a client and friend Alannah Britz. Inside she wrote a moving message of gratitude for the work we have done together and how it has changed her as a trainer and as a person…….discovering she can ‘truly dance’ ! I was overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness.
There is more though – this focus on gratitude is particularly important for me at this time of year for another reason. Three years ago in the space of 10 days I lost my darling brother Charlie and my great-nephew and godson Rory, and almost a year later my sister Colette. All gone before their time. Their anniversaries remind me though that if all we focus on is loss, it negates the joy and privilege of having them in our lives in the first place and all the other good things in our lives. As is often said ‘our energy flows where our attention goes’.
It has also been proven that being grateful activates the reward centres in our brain and boosts our bonds with others. Specifically, it activates the hypothalamus the control centre that affects our metabolism, appetite, sleep and reaction to stress. When we get into the habit of focusing on what we are grateful for we literally retrain our pre-frontal cortex to look for positives. So gratitude is essential to our mental and physical health and boosting our resilience when faced with the challenges of life.
Furthermore, when you are presenting or training it is a useful preparation to ‘front-load’ the gratitude. By that I mean, as you prepare to go into the situation feel and express your gratitude (to yourself) for the participation of those who will be there, before you even meet them. Doing this will transform your presence and make building rapport with them even easier!
Maybe getting into the gratitude habit could be the best present of all we could give ourselves and others this Christmas and throughout 2020 !
Thank you for reading this article !!