Being Thankful for Thankfulness

Let me start this blog with a “thank you!”

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Thank you for giving me an excuse to look more deeply at the practice of gratitude.  While I knew gratitude boosted energy and brightened outlooks, I have grown to appreciate more the specific, research-based, measurable impact that practicing gratitude can bring into our lives through this study.  So, thank you!

I have never quite had a year like this past year.  As I reflected on it with my Timeline Tool, I realized that this year was uniquely filled with both very high highs and very low lows—often stacked right on top of each other!   One of the anchors that has carried me through this wonderful and difficult year has been that of regular thankfulness.  Even in the midst of loss and sadness, we can focus on the good in the world and the givers of good in the world through thankfulness.

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Brene Brown is a researcher, story-teller, and TEDx speaker with millions of views.  She described to an interviewer what she expected to find as she began researching the topics of joy and gratitude.

Prior to her research, she expected to find that those who were joyful would demonstrate the most gratitude.  As the data arrived, however, she found the exact opposite to be true!  Those who regularly practiced gratitude experienced more joy. 

Pretty soon, her family started adopting regular habits of gratitude—such as identifying something they were thankful for before each meal.

Wow!  Everyone is searching for the key to happiness!

Who knew it was in gratitude?

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Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”

After looking more deeply at the research, I can see the truth of this profound statement even more.

Robert Emmons is a gratitude researcher—(cool job, eh?).  In 2013, he released his long-term findings in his book called Gratitude Works!.

One of the specific practices of gratitude that Emmons endorses is keeping a journal in which you write down your thoughts and feelings related to gratitude (see also Think Time).

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When this practice of gratitude and others were studied, 6 different categories of significant findings were noted.

 

1.  Practicing gratitude increases emotional well being.  People feel more joy, happiness, and overall well being.

2.  Practicing gratitude improves relationships.  People get along better with others and find that their relationships are more fulfilling.  They feel more connected and less lonely.

3.  Practicing gratitude can reduce depression.  In mild or mild to moderate depression, practicing gratitude can help in remediation of depression and help prevent future episodes of depression.

4.  People practicing gratitude achieve more.  They are more goal oriented and more effective at accomplishing the goals they set for themselves.

5.  People practicing gratitude were more resilient to trauma.  Gratitude became part of a person’s psychological immunity system.

6.  People practicing gratitude experience better physical health.  In this newest line of research, measurable, quantifiable data correlates practicing gratitude with people exercising more.  These people also sleep better and awake feeling more refreshed.  They are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and they are more likely to adhere to medication prescribed by a doctor.  Also, links to lower blood pressure, healthy lipid panels, and better kidney health were discovered.

Wow!  What a list!

If you are like me, you are adding practicing thankfulness to the top of your daily priority list right away!

Would you join me as I bump up thankfulness to the top of my priorities?  

How about you?  What are you thankful for today on this Thanksgiving ThinkTime Thursday?  Please comment below!

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.

 

Create More Margin for Special Moments

Does it feel like the special moments are too few and far between?  Do moments just pass by at the speed of light?

We used to savor the little moments.

Where did they go?

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Sitting by the fire with a good friend.

Playing pretend with children.

Throwing an awesome party!

Are those just things of the past?

They don’t have to be!

Let me tell you a story…

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This week, Keith and I were honored guests to a very fancy tea party.  The table had been prepared the day before.  Grandma’s blanket served as the table cloth.  Play dishes from the kids’ kitchen were meticulously set, and a playdoh feast of cake, sour candies, and tootsie rolls adorned the center of the table.  Most of all, hot tea and sugar cubes were set in advance, and guests were invited excitedly to attend.  Keith and I sat for a good 20-30 minutes without hurry soaking in the moment—catching eyes many times at how adorable the entire setting was and laughing a lot.  As I sat on the floor, I relished in thankfulness that we had been intentional over the weekend to provide the margin for a moment like this.

Most of this past year had not been as relaxed as that fancy tea party.  Together, Keith and I had added to our plate more than we realized.  Keith was not only in charge of a very special and very complex architectural project, he was also promoted…twice!  Increased responsibility such as this certainly takes time to acclimate into your schedule.  Just prior to this, we had decided to launch a small business called Think Time together!  On top of these changes, this year also held a season of personal change, grief, and growth for us as a family.  So, we were squeezed emotionally, physically, and in every way.

This weekend, following another demanding week, we sat in our living room and just breathed.  We gradually reflected on this past year.  We decided that we are ready for a season of rest—even if that means that we cut some important things or delegate some tasks to others.  We simply cannot keep up this pace and maintain our values and priorities.  We want to protect our time for relationships.  We want to simplify and to be present in each moment.

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Because we had taken time to reflect on our year together, on our highs and lows, I had a head start when I took time Sunday morning to Think Time.  As I visualized the future, my visions included a sketch of Keith chasing our kids during focused family time that we would carve out of each evening. My Rosebush included going to bed and getting up early as a prize rose.  I decided to prune doing the housework late at night and/or by myself.  I specified activities that could be delegated to my little helpers.  After all, it builds into their character for me to slow down and to let them help—(which is yet another long term, high return goal).

Watch me Think Time this process here: A Little Dreaming.

One of the best things I do each week is evaluate how my routines support my goals and tweak them as necessary.  After brainstorming my to-bes and to-dos and filtering my big picture goals for the week through the Decide Grid, I started working on my calendar tool. For Keith and me, investing in our kids and being present with them is a long-term, high return goal.  However, the demands of life fight against us.  Nevertheless, because this is a prize category, as we take time to Think Time, we fight back by working goals such as these into our routines…FIRST.

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To really succeed, schedule your long-term, high return goals first.

It is like paying yourself first when you make a monthly budget or scheduling appointments with yourself to complete your most important task.  Keith and I have found that there is rarely a convenient evening to have a date, but when it is pre-scheduled, it happens, and we are always thankful.  In twenty years, we want to be happily married, so we make our deposits now.  In our high-pressured world, there are few good times to check in with an elderly neighbor, call a friend, or write that note.  However, if we start with a vision of WHO WE WANT TO BE, then our priorities then become clear, and our actions begin to follow.

Start with a vision of who you want to be.  

For me, this week it meant simply evaluating our afternoon and evening routines.  We were doing the same activities—just at different times and in different ways—to free up time and space for our larger goals.  I envisioned first what I wanted our evenings to look like, then it became clear what needed to move to make that happen.

You may just flip your priorities on their head.  You may find that playing with your baby or helping your toddler sort silverware becomes a priority because it is supporting your long term, high return goal of cultivating a close relationship and raising a capable, responsible adult.

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Conversely, picking up the slack for someone at work may move down on the priority list.  It is an immediate, low return activity that will only repeat the more you do it.

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What about you?

What are some long-term goals that you would like to work into your routine? 

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Please comment in the comments below!

Thank you for your time

…because your time is your life.

 

 

Blog Highlights!

“Protect time for relationships.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Be present in each moment.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Simplify.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“Cut important things or delegate tasks to promote a season of rest.”  @thinktimetweets

“Be intentional to provide margin.”  think-time.com  @thinktimetweets

“Work activities that build into your long-term and short-term goals into your routines.” @thinktimetweets

“If we start with a vision of who we want to be, then our priorities then become clear, and our actions begin to follow.” @thinktimetweets

“To really succeed, schedule your long-term, high return goals first.”  @thinktimetweets

“Start with a vision of who you want to be.”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

“The demands of life fight against us.  Fight back!”  think-time.com @thinktimetweets

 

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Christine M. Wilson, LPC

Co-Founder, Think Time

2016-5-6-tt-logo-gray-cropped

Think Time Life Leadership System

Use your whole brain to plan your whole life.

Shop now at think-time.com.