Last week, I read a blog post written by a women physician leader. It caught my attention because she was talking about the benefits of being a physician-the ability to save a life, pay her mortgage and have respect in the community. That’s not what most physicians are thinking or talking about in their overwhelmingly busy workday. Yet many don’t realize that when you practice gratitude, it is guaranteed to increase your happiness and work fulfillment.
The Power of Gratitude
Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, and a higher sense of well-being.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. Physicians are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.
That’s why we need to practice gratitude. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.
Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, friends who listen and really hear, warm jackets, the ability to read, roses, our health. What’s on your list?
Some Ways to Practice Gratitude
- Keep a gratitude journal to list things you are thankful for. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Or use your creativity and draw or paste pictures. Greater frequency will be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.
- Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.
- Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.
As you practice gratitude, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.