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We're often asked, "What are you grateful for?" particularly around the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. Our answer to this “pop” question is typically honest and straightforward - family, friends, and health. But, how can giving even deeper thought to your response help your productivity?
The Oxford dictionary defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful. And we have so much more to be grateful for than we think.
Recently, I sat down for a meditation session I had decided would be about gratitude. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but a continuous string of people and things for which I am grateful poured out of my head with no effort whatsoever. Perhaps my relaxed state allowed the floodgates to open, even to my surprise. Ideas came to mind that I had never thought of in a "grateful" context before.
For several days following this extraordinary meditation session, I found myself experiencing greater happiness and a profound sense of contentment.
While it is, of course, desirable to be thankful for how others impact our lives, don't reserve all your gratitude for others. Share a little of that love with yourself. And while you may not feel grateful all the time, you can strive to be grateful more often than not.
We often look to outside factors as the driver of our joy and happiness. In reality, those feelings come from within us. According to UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, "Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant."
Let’s look at five ways this state of mind can be a tremendous boost to your productivity.
1. Everyone (and everything) has something to teach you.
Some of the most challenging situations in life teach you the most valuable lessons, and there is much to be gained in the form of strength, wisdom, and compassion. If you choose to see opportunities for growth and self-awareness, an abundance of opportunities will appear.
2. Fear of change will keep you from progress.
Whether you move willingly or with staunch resistance through change is entirely up to you. Digging a deeper foothold in your comfort zone will not propel you toward your goals. Applying that energy toward positivity and self-compassion will be rewarded through increased patience toward yourself and others.
3. Mindfulness of the present moment.
Distraction is one of the most significant obstacles in today's information age. When you feel a sense of peace and calm, you intensify your ability to focus. As a result, it’s easier to see goals through to completion and increase your feelings of accomplishment.
4. Increased confidence.
Showing yourself appreciation and acknowledgment increases your confidence. In turn, this provides powerful motivation to persevere and keep striving. As you achieve your goals, you strengthen your determination, and the cycle continues.
5. Catch more zzzz's.
A post from Psychology Today states gratitude promotes longer, sounder sleep. A contributing factor may be, "when you cultivate gratitude throughout the day, you're more likely to have positive thoughts as you're drifting off to sleep." By now, we all know the many benefits of a good night's sleep. The healthier and more refreshed we feel, the more productive we are likely to be.
There is no down-side to gratitude. You can meditate about it, keep a gratitude journal, or count your blessings as you drift off to sleep each night. The scientific evidence continues to mount regarding ways it can benefit us.
How will you bring an intentional mindset of gratitude to your life? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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