Over the last month, I’ve been teaching about resiliency in two different contexts. Last week, I taught a two-day course on Resiliency for Leaders. Last month, I taught a similar course, based on my book Hold On To Yourself, to a group of employees.

I’m saturating in the topic of resiliency at the moment, so wanted to pull out one lesson that, if you were to strengthen this one idea over this next month, it would make a big difference.

This idea might seem obvious. You might roll your eyes. You might say “But I do that.” Or “I do that and it doesn’t work.” Yet, it is also profound.

So, a powerful key take-away that can help any of us be more resilient is:

Gratitude

Many people who I interacted with this last month knew the power inherent in gratitude. Knowing gratitude is important… is not the key take-away!

Many of us have a gratitude practice or have had a practice.

Some write out 3 joyful moments at the end of a day. That’s one I do frequently.

From time to time, I also have a practice where I collect 10 joy points throughout my day, from Emotional Brain Training. When I collect joy points daily, it’s very fun and I am upping my savoring of joyful moments throughout the day. My mood is elevated and those around me also find their energies elevated. They too become reminded that there are wonderous moments around us and always something to be thankful for.

Having said that, there is also resistance and the forgetting of a practice we know is good for us. Even if you have a gratitude practice, most of us face resistance. One learner summed it up this month by saying she knows what to do and forgot – but then was reminded how her mental health was so much better when she did a daily gratitude practice.

That reminder inspired her to resurrect it after class yet again.

So, whether you are someone who:

  • has never had a gratitude practice
  • has had a gratitude practice, but is not presently
  • has some kind of ongoing gratitude practice

I want to encourage each of you to take this idea one step further!

Never Had a Gratitude Practice?

If you’ve never had a gratitude practice, and you think it could support strengthening your resiliency, I want to encourage you by saying – it’s fun and easy!

Many studies have been conducted on the impact of a gratitude practice, and one simple method is to write down 3 things you’re grateful for, at the end of your day. A study I read recently indicated the impact was noticed in a control group after 4 weeks of daily gratitude. I’ve seen other studies where the impact has been noticed much sooner.

You could take on that practice between now and the next HOTY and see what you discover. It’s basically a month away – so there’s your 4 weeks! See if you feel differently! I bet you will.

Had A Gratitude Practice But Not Lately?

If you’re someone who’s had a practice, but not presently, see the Rx above. How about resurrecting it – just for the month? It doesn’t have to be forever! One step at a time. And, going through the holiday period, what a wonderful support practice to carry you through! Put your daily gratitude practice back on the list, together with my learner from the Resiliency class!

Facing our Resistance is part of getting back on the proverbial horse. We fall off and how do we talk to ourselves about that? Is it a learning or an end point? If we can see it as a learning, we can dust ourselves off, learn and get back on again.

Another learner, from the Resiliency course, decided she was going to use an inner “Force” (think: “May the Force Be With You”) to get back on to doing what she knows she wants to, but resists. She’ll be experimenting now with the idea of using that Force to do the actions she’s committed to.

Experiment and see what works for you!

I Have a Gratitude Practice – Thank You Very Much!

I came across a quote from this paper that got me thinking more about how to deepen a gratitude practice, such that it becomes part of you. It is a shift from practicing gratitude to actually embodying a personality trait of gratitude. Here’s the quote that sparked this new vision:

“… gratitude constitutes both a state and a personality trait. ‘State’ gratitude refers to an affective-cognitive condition based on the evaluation of the positive result and an understanding of its outside origin. The trait of gratitude implies an overall life orientation that includes observing and being thankful for numerous enjoyable aspects of life.”

That distinction illuminates the difference between having a practice and increasing your natural set point to where you are naturally and regularly in awe and gratitude. That’s “next level” – to be living in a state of gratitude!

That’s incredible!

Do you know people who exude gratitude and awe as their natural personality? They always seem able to find the good. Someone I know goes through the day uttering the phrase: That’s incredible!

I took that phrase on recently when I was on a bike ride with a few of my cycling chums. As we rode along, I saw how many times I could say: “That’s incredible!” There were so many! And every time I noticed something – a skyline, a cloud, a perfectly manicured set of bushes – and I shouted “That’s incredible!” – they laughed. All of us were elevated by the noticing.

That’s what I’m talking about!

Then I was in a new kettle bell class recently (same chums, new location!) and the instructor would regularly say: “I appreciate that” and name some behaviour each of us were doing, as if it was amazing.

“I appreciate that you got up early to be here today.”

“I appreciate how you managed to complete that routine although you’d never seen it before.”

“I appreciate how you completed this class!”

His elevation increased my own. I went from tired to someone who shows up, someone who is determined, someone who completes.

This is creating a habit of gratitude intertwined with who you are, such that gratitude becomes a personality trait. When I do the Emotional Brain Training practice of collecting 10 joy points throughout my day, I do feel my set point changing. It’s an extra gratitude practice that goes throughout the day. When I do collect joy points, it makes a large difference in my life.

Perhaps, I may never get to the point where I’m “one of those people” in the “That’s Incredible” kind of way. But I aspire to it! The key, for me, is to increase my brain’s usual set point. Like a thermostat, we all have an emotional mindset set point. And, like a thermostat, we can change that set point.

And, it does take deliberate practice. I find the collecting joy points does that for me. Also, the day that I searched out my immediate environment for examples of “That’s incredible” – there was instant appreciation. That was fun!

So, we can take our gratitude practices from states to traits! Here’s how I collect joy points:

I firstly intentionally stop 10 times a day, often with a timer on my phone. Then I center myself (a few intentional breaths), then I notice something to appreciate. Could be:

  • What can I appreciate at this moment?
  • What’s incredible about this very moment?
  • What am I or this other person doing that is worth saying: “I appreciate you for x (the behaviour)?”

I will commit to resurrecting my 10 times a day collecting joy points practice. Starting today.

I appreciate you for taking the time to read this as it shows your commitment to growing and learning and connection. Thank you! I appreciate also having you to write for. Thank you so very much for opening this newsletter. It’s profound for me to have the capacity to reach you. You give me a reason to feel good. If I do truly contribute to you and your quality of life in some small way, even through this act right here, right now, of sharing my thoughts, how lucky am I?

I think that thought often when I am teaching too. How lucky am I to have met these people who want to learn and grow and how lucky am I to meet those who think what I share is worth sharing. Contribution. That feels good! I’d love for you to join me in a joyful gratitude practice over this month, whether you are starting one, resurrecting one or taking your own to the next level.

Let me know! And, let’s create momentum with a wonderful holiday season together!