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GRATITUDE DRIVES RESILIENCE
August 6, 2019
How gratitude makes stronger leaders
Gratitude is the single best predictor of well-being and personal resilience, according to research by Columbia University psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman published in Scientific American. Although humans may be hard-wired to search for danger and identify obstacles, developing the capacity to search for success and identify progress is also a fundamental skill we can add to our toolkit to thrive at work and at home.
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“Especially early in our careers, we tend to worry about what others think and fear making bold choices,” explains Anne Grady, an expert on emotional intelligence and resilience, LDW co-presenter and President & Founder of the Anne Grady Group. “Practicing a more empowered mindset can catapult you into higher levels of leadership because you learn how to navigate the bumps and see setbacks and failures as helpful input and not the end of the road.”
Grateful . . . how?
Additional research published in Clinical Psychology Review shows that gratitude arises from a habitual focusing on and appreciating the positive aspects of life.
“Our negativity bias is a great protection mechanism, but it can also undermine us,” Grady explains. “We can offset that habit by choosing how we interpret challenging situations and cultivating positive emotions through gratitude. The earlier you can learn these skills and habits, the more ingrained they become in everything you and do and they serve as your foundation for becoming a leader.”
A well-proven road to cultivating gratitude (and reaping the rewards of resilience and well-being) is a daily gratitude list. Most approaches share several common elements including:
Write down three to five specific things you feel grateful for today. Many people opt to do this first thing in the morning to provide a positive start to the day. Rather than simply listing your family or job, getting specific makes entries unique and more engaging. For example, “I’m grateful I have the opportunity to attend the D&I task force meeting at work today.” Or, “I’m grateful my son is prepared for his science test.”
Sit quietly for several minutes to feel your sense of gratitude, relax your mind and start your day with a clear and focused positive intention.
Send positive thoughts to difficult people in your life. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, this tactic can help reduce unwanted emotional responses and increase positive emotions.
Express your gratitude. Test subjects have shown strong increases in feelings of happiness after sharing their gratitude with those they appreciate. This is where gratitude gets its power. Thinking grateful thoughts once in a while is fine, but making them a daily practice and sharing them with others increases their impact.
“Developing skills of gratitude is an incredibly effective way to deal with stress, increase your ability to handle tougher challenges successfully and release yourself from living and working reactively,” Grady says. “People who master those skills make excellent leaders.”
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