A Whole New World: 7 Virtues for the Great Reset - #4 GratitudeJun 26, 2020
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
Gratitude is appreciation for the good in our lives, even under dire circumstances. People who are thankful in the midst of adversity have a far better chance, not only to survive, but to thrive. During these unusual and trying times, when the waves of crisis keep coming, it’s perhaps more important than ever to focus on gratitude — the practice of noticing and being thankful for what is valuable and meaningful in our lives. Gratitude provides the ballast for us to navigate the waves. Gratitude has the power to increase our well-being, prevent disease, and even help us heal from trauma. Its effects can help us stay positive through the corona virus pandemic and beyond.
Research shows a significant connection between well-being and the practice of gratitude:
- It enhances our immune system. The practice of gratitude can improve immune function, according to the American Heart Association. This is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis, since people with compromised immunity face a high risk of becoming severely ill from coronavirus.
- It lowers our risk for mental health issues. Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude show a significantly lower risk for major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and substance dependence and abuse, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- It helps us get a handle on stress. Focusing on positive emotions can help improve our ability to cope with stress, according to the National Institutes of Health.
- It enhances well-being and success. In clinical trials, grateful people have been shown to exercise more, eat healthier diets, and experience more optimism.
The story comes to mind of twin boys brought to a psychiatrist because of their contrasting, intense natures of pessimism and optimism. When the pessimist was led to a room filled with new toys and games, the child cried and refused to enter. “What’s wrong?” asked the doctor. “Don’t you want to play with all these toys?” “No,” wailed the boy. “I’m afraid I might break them.” Then, the doctor took the optimistic twin into a room filled with excrement. The boy enthusiastically raced in and started happily digging into the pile. “What makes you so happy?”, the doctor asked. The boy replied, “With all this manure, there’s bound to be a pony in here somewhere!” Perception is everything.
Slowing down during the stay at home period has made many of us aware of how fortunate we are for things we may have taken for granted -- a picnic in the park, dinners with family and friends, the routine of going to work, a sense of safety and freedom.
Perhaps if we allow ourselves to be conscious of what a privilege it is to be alive at a time of such incredible potential for positive change, our very gratitude for that will spur us to be agents of the change we want to see in the world. There is no greater happiness than being in alignment with a noble purpose, and today there is a profound need for willing participation in the Great Reset. Whether as advocates for racial unity and justice, ecology warriors, or just doing what we can to help our families and communities get through this pandemic safely and well cared for, we can all play a part.
Gratitude is a powerful antidote to anxiety. A man whose life had fallen apart following the loss of his job, his marriage, and his health had an epiphany while taking a hike. He decided to send hand-written thank you notes of appreciation every day for a year. He wanted to find a reason to be thankful and grateful every single day. Incredibly enough, there were things right under his nose to be thankful for that he hadn’t noticed. As he wrote these 365 appreciation cards, his life completely turned around. John Kralik wrote a best-selling book, entitled A Simple Act of Gratitude. John said that writing the thank you notes over the course of the year taught him to value the good things and created a discipline of positive focus. “Gratitude presses outwards and that creates good feelings in the universe. A lot of that comes back to you eventually,” he said.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all the abundance.“ ~ Eckart Tolle
Call to action.
- Give yourself permission to be happy.
- Create a daily practice of counting your blessings each day.
- Express appreciation for the virtues you see in others. It will make their day. The Virtues Cards app is one way to do this.
- Discern your way of giving back to serve a vision of positivity.
Authors: Linda Kavelin-Popov and David Feldman
Linda Kavelin-Popov is a psychotherapist and hospice spiritual care doula. She is co-founder of The Virtues Project, endorsed by The Dalai Lama and the United Nations. She has authored seven books, translated into several languages. She was named a “Cultural Creative” by Time Magazine.
Dave Feldman is an entrepreneur, community builder, thought leader and international speaker. He co-founded several social entrepreneurial ventures including: Virtues Matter, developer of the Virtues Cards app; Livability Project, a sustainability consultancy; and Media4Green, an environmental content producer.