I have committed to making 2019 the year of gratitude. The practice of gratitude can be an incredible self-improvement tool simply by understanding the positive effects of gratitude and learning how to practice being grateful. The well-known business strategist and performance coach, Tony Robbins, describes gratitude saying, “You can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. You can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously. So, gratitude is the solution to both anger and fear.”
What is gratitude? The concept of gratitude can be a bit abstract, but is most simply described as expressing appreciation for what one has, as opposed to focusing on what one does not have. The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence states, “More than any other personality trait, gratitude is strongly linked to mental health and life satisfaction. Grateful people experience more joy, love, and enthusiasm, and they enjoy protection from destructive emotions like envy, greed, and bitterness.”
What life-changing results can gratitude provide? Gratitude has been shown to reduce the risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders. People who experience gratitude cope better with stress, recover more quickly from illness and experience improved decision-making. Gratitude has also been attributed to lowering blood pressure, better immune function, increased energy and vitality and better sleep quality. Gratitude makes us more optimistic and empathetic, increases self-esteem and makes us less self-centered.
How does one actually practice gratitude? Oprah has been actively practicing gratitude every day for decades. She does this by writing down five things she is grateful for in a handwritten journal or electronic document. She emphasizes how knowing what you’re grateful for can help you make the right decisions and find success in work and life. Other examples of practicing gratitude include actively paying attention to things you are grateful for throughout the day, expressing gratitude to others daily, as well as meditation and prayer focusing on gratitude. There are many ways to practice gratitude. The method is less important than the consistency.
I invite you to join me in actively practicing gratitude on a daily basis this year. I am committed to setting aside a time every day to write down three things I am especially grateful for that day. It may be something significant like the health of my family or something as simple as a sunset I saw earlier that day. I will spend a minute visualizing each item or moment and creating as clear an image in my mind as possible. I believe that intentionally practicing these small acts of gratitude each day will allow me to be my best self and create an incredible and positive 2019 for myself, my family and my patients.
Cheers to dental health,
Dr. Cliff Moore