I sat at the kitchen table crying for the third night in a row; a pattern that had slowly become the norm over the last year. I knew something had to change.
I was unhappy in my job. Okay, let’s be real. My job made me absolutely miserable.
And this misery bled into all areas of my life: my marriage, my friendships, my volunteer work.
I stopped hanging out with friends, I gave up my volunteer roles, and I became a shell of myself, spending every evening on the couch with a bottle of wine. I lost sense of who I was.
The next day, I resigned from my job and immediately felt a sense of relief. A few weeks later, after my last day of work, my husband and I flew to Abu Dhabi and spent two glorious weeks truly unencumbered.
Then we came home. Those initial feelings of elation wore off as I spent more time alone with my thoughts.
Sure, leaving my job made me happy at first, but it wouldn’t resolve my depression. I needed something that would help me rediscover myself.
That thing was gratitude.
A daily gratitude practice is shown to improve well-being in many areas of our lives:
1. Mental: Gratitude helps to reduce negative emotions such as hopelessness, jealousy and anger. Studies by leading gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. conclude that practicing gratitude reduces feelings of depression while increasing feelings of happiness.
2. Physical: Gratitude can actually boost our immune system, according to researchers at the universities of Utah and Kentucky. It also helps us sleep better, eat less fat and reduce signs of aging. Win-win-win!
3. Career: Gratitude can improve your decision-making, productivity and goal achievement. When you are not weighed down by feelings of self-doubt, you are more likely to be successful at work. Not to mention, gratitude reduces your likelihood of feeling burned out.
4. Social: Gratitude makes us more likable! Of course, saying thank-you when someone holds a door for you is common courtesy, but a study by University of News South Wales researchers revealed that thanking a new acquaintance, for spending time with you or for good advice, will make them more likely to continue the friendship.
Who can argue with benefits like that? I was curious to try it myself.
I started keeping a gratitude journal, a common suggestion from gratitude experts. But I needed something more than “what are you grateful for today?”
Instead, I used my coaching knowledge to craft questions that would push me into giving a raw, heartfelt answer.
The result? I felt more in tune with my emotional health, I felt better physically, and I cultivated a strong understanding of who I am and what I value.
Did all of that make me happier? Hell yes.
My daily gratitude practice brought me out of my negative headspace and into my heart. It allowed me to reconnect with myself and reclaim my joy. I know it can have the same impacts on your life.
Ready to give it a try? Start with these three questions:
1. What lessons are you grateful to have learned?
2. How did these lessons shape your life?
3. How might you teach others about these lessons?
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