Why Practicing Gratitude is a Superpower!

As the world seems to be getting more and more chaotic at times, I can’t help but wonder what is really going on? Do you ever feel that way? We are bombarded by information right now and so much of it is mis- or dis-information. Getting to the TRUTH can be a challenge. It is good to have healthy skepticism, ask questions, and search for the truth as much as possible. We need critical thinkers and not just yes people who do not challenge narratives. And there’s also a way to do this with respect and empathy. It used to be that we could debate and argue and yet remain friends. Now the world seems so divided at times. Name-calling brings it down to a level of immaturity and lack of listening skills. Empathy will bring us together and curiosity helps us to find common ground.

No matter how crazy the world may seem right now, one thing I do know is that although we can’t control what is happening around us, we are able to control how we respond to it. Rather than having a knee-jerk or triggered reaction, take a little time to think about how you can best handle a situation. Keeping grounded, keeping your cool, choosing to wait to get more information or digest information, are all ways to ride out the storm.

I often use an analogy of being on the ocean of life and choosing to ride on the waves, staying on top where the view is good, the sun shines, and it’s so much fun versus being pulled into the undertow of drama, where you cannot see, it’s hard to breathe, and you get tossed and turned around, out of control.

There are two essential things I believe we need to thrive: hope and gratitude.

Hope gives us something to look forward to. And even though we’re going through chaotic times, I personally believe the best is yet to come. It gives me hope that we are resilient, and we’ll get through whatever challenges might come our way. Hope shines a light for a way out of the darkness. Our imaginations are powerful and if we can focus on the world we’d like to see and the life we would like to have, the chances of that happening will increase greatly! Hope to me equals: Happiness, Optimism, and Positive Energy.

On a day-to-day basis however, finding hope might be hard because the reality of life might not reflect that right now. That is where gratitude comes in. No matter what is happening, you can always find something to be grateful for. I look at gratitude as a tool. It is a way to stay in a positive frame of mind no matter what is happening. If you are breathing, well then you can find something to be grateful for in your life!

This is why I believe practicing gratitude is a superpower! I’ve been “working with” gratitude for almost two decades now. In August of 2021, I had a digital meeting with Marc Braun, a CEO I interviewed for our CEO Culture Report. I had no idea how much that Zoom call would impact my life. Marc invited me to a 30 day “challenge” of sharing daily gratitude. Because I’d been working with gratitude regularly, it wasn’t much of a challenge for me. It was fun…and we keep going!

The last year, my practice of gratitude has expanded into a daily experiment of writing down things I’m grateful for, sharing it and reading other’s gratitude lists in a few small groups on both WhatsApp and Telegram. This has been so powerful in keeping a positive frame of mind! The small groups have been wonderful, intimate, and brought me closer to the people by seeing their lives through the lens of gratitude.

But I didn’t know if or how this practice could be scalable.

Then something magical happened. From Sept 1st to Sept 21st 2022, I was involved in a larger scale journey of sharing gratitude. Kevin Monroe, a dear friend whom I’ve come to know through one of my gratitude groups via Marc, put together 21 Days/Ways of Growing Gratitude. He had over 600 people sharing gratitude on a wonderful app that made it easy and interactive, with gamification (you got points for each gratitude you shared), videos, inspiring pictures, and even some great TedTalks. Once I got the hang of the app, it took me 5 – 10 minutes a day with my gratitude “work.” And I’ve connected with even more amazing people! You can find out more about Kevin and his work here.

I share all of this because I hope you will be inspired to start using gratitude as a tool, to choose to work with it deliberately.

Here are the 5 ways that gratitude becomes a superpower:

  1. Thinking of things to be grateful for activates oxytocin in your body which lifts your mood, helps you sleep better, and see your life through a lens of gratitude.
  2. Writing down the things you are grateful for solidifies your thoughts on paper, making them even more real and tangible. Keeping track of them can help inspire you when you are having a hard time thinking of things. I suggest a minimum of 3 and maximum of 10 but do what feels right for you.
  3. Sharing your gratitude list with others takes a bit of courage at first because it can feel a bit vulnerable to share. But that quickly passes when you see how it connects you to others. After all, we are all humans have these crazy life experiences!
  4. Reading others’ gratitude lists helps you to see what other people are grateful for in their lives. It will inspire you and lift your mood up even more. I believe it helps to counterbalance all the negative information we are bombarded with daily.
  5. Creating a habit by taking action daily, you’ll ingrain a great behavior that will keep you in a positive frame of mind long term. It takes minimum 3 weeks and on average 58 days to create a habit and change your patterns. But once it’s done, it can easily become a part of your daily rituals, like brushing your teeth.

I’ll admit, there are days where it’s hard to write the list and sometimes I don’t. There is another ground rule for these groups: no guilt and no shame. The goal is to write daily but sometimes we get busy or just don’t have it in us. What I have found on those rare days, is that reading other people’s gratitude brings me back to hope!

To give you an example of a typical share, here is my latest gratitude post:

Here are some things that people have written about being in a gratitude group:

“I’m blessed to know that I’m part of a group of wonderful humans I’m connected to with gratitude. The grace we share here has a deep resonance within me. You people are my soul tribe. I appreciate all the stories and little gifts. This group raises my frequency. Thank you all for participating and welcoming me. Y’all are some the best humans I know and I’m better for knowing y’all. Thanks so much for starting this. I knew it was beneficial but didn’t expect it to alter my perception quite so much!”

“It has not always been easy to focus on the positive and be grateful so thank you all for helping me see things from the bright side more and more and for inspiring with all your posts, life changing for me❤️

“Daily gratitude has a profound impact at how I perceived ‘problems’ and has caused me to realize that often I made problems by not understanding how to look at things from a different perspective. The universe works really good when we let it.”

“I am grateful for the openness, honesty and inclusion of this group. How family should be💕🌈

So here is my “challenge” for you…see if you can start using gratitude as a tool and even create a gratitude group. Use whatever platform is easy for you (WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, messaging, etc). You can do this with your team, a group of friends, or your family. Invite people to this and make it an experiment. Then see what happens…

You can choose to make gratitude one of YOUR superpowers! Then share it with others. The ripple effect can truly make a difference!

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