A Coaching Power Tool Created by Sara Janiczek
(Relationship Coach, GERMANY)
It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy – Unknown
Every year Thanksgiving is celebrated. It motivates Americans to focus on all the good that is already present in their lives. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin root gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (Robert A. Emmons). It’s the recognition of an altruistic gift and a complex state that belongs to the category of affective-cognitive conditions, which is associated with mental health (Clore, Ortony, & Foss, 1987). The ability to appreciate moments of one’s life has been recognized as an important determinant of well-being (Bryant, 1989; Janoff-Bulman& Berger, 2000; Langston, 1994).
Long time research has discovered the benefits of gratitude. One case study of 9 weeks (included 201 participants), showed that individuals who were practicing appreciation had higher satisfaction and well-being than the comparison groups. They also reported fewer physical complaints and exercised more frequently. Attendants were divided into three groups; one group had to write about negative events, the second group about moments for which they were grateful for, and the third group about natural events. The gratitude group scored significantly higher on the happiness spectrum. Psychologists Emmons and McCullough conducted a similar study in 2003. Participants were supposed to write down their blessings either every week for ten weeks or daily for between two and three weeks. The results reported a higher level of positive emotion and better physical health, compared to the control group. Due to these results, many psychologists agree that gratitude is an essential and effective constituent of well-being since it involves a whole shift of attitude and perspective (Steve Taylor Ph.D.).
Complaining often correlates with emotions such as self-pity, anger, resentment, disappointments, frustration, fear, jealousy, and envy. As a result, we become closed-minded and discouraged. Our thinking appears limited and negative thoughts seem to multiple. When we complain, more negative patterns are formed which can hinder us to respond well to circumstances that are challenging. Moreover, having negative thoughts release the stress hormone cortisol which is known to interfere with bone density, cholesterol, the immense system and contributes to heart disease. In a nutshell, complaining drains energy, whereas gratitude creates power.
When we are grateful we often express emotions such as; hope, faith, love, abundance, peace, calmness, confidence, and we become more focused and have greater expectations (Helen Majaga). Our minds are open to myriad possibilities.
Benefits of Gratitude
- Improved physical, emotional, and social well-being
- Greater optimism and happiness
- Improved feelings of connection in times of loss or crises
- Increased self-esteem
- Heightened energy levels
- Improved emotional intelligence
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved self-care and greater likelihood to exercise
Shifting from a complaining state of mind requires mindfulness and a willingness to change the habit. Implementing gratitude practices for at least three weeks (according to experts, it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit) will help to adapt to the new pattern. One of the practices is working daily on a gratitude journal. Either in the morning or the evening, one can write down 3-5 positive experiences from the day. Another option would be a short gratitude meditation, where one focuses on what one can be grateful for; lingering on thoughts of positive moments from the day. Expressing thankfulness, whether it is to a person or a meal, as much as possible is also a way of implanting the gratitude mindset. Also, writing down what someone appreciates about oneself. Showing gratitude to strangers as well as surrounding oneself with people who are already practicing a positive mindset is another option. Consistency is the key to changing the mindset. While many occurrences are beyond our control, the attitude is always up to the individual. The mentality of gratitude is at all times a decision away. A coach can help the client to create this awareness and establish a successful gratitude practice by the use of powerful questions that are listed below.
- What could be something you can be grateful for in this situation?
- Who could help you?
- What resources do you have that could resolve this issue?
- What’s one kind or thoughtful thing someone did for you recently?
- What’s the best occurrence that happened today so far?
- What’s something that inspired or touched you recently?
- What about today has been better than yesterday?
- What have you learned recently that will help you in the future?
- Have you experienced any blessings in disguise lately—events that didn’t turn out as you’d hoped and yet turned out for the best?
- What did you learn from the most difficult situation and how will this lesson benefit you go forward?