Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Practices for Gratitude

As we move into the year-end holiday season it’s an opportunity to stop and pause, as well as connect
with those we might not see regularly. It is an opportune time to be grateful. Gratitude as a practice has many physiological and psychological benefits, including higher levels of optimism, increased positivity, more pro-social relationships , happier relationships, and also lower levels of toxic thoughts.
This fall I returned to school as a student and participate in the first Positive Psychology MOOC (Massive Online Open Enrollment Course) hosted by University of Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.  As we explored the research around gratitude I was not surprised about the impact of gratitude. As many of you know I spent several years working in youth leadership development in the late 1980s and early 1990s. One of the most popular books at the time was “10,000 things to be happy about”. My own lists of “things to be happy about” became a standard practice for my work throughout Algonquin Park  and throughout my decade plus of journaling while I worked globally with international NGOs and the UN.   Through some of the more stressful moments of my leadership experiences globally these lists remained a beacon of light and grounding for me.
As coaches, many of our clients are looking to create more space to pause and practice gratitude. Today’s blog post looks at three practices which focus on gratitude. 
Practice #1 - Gratitude Journal
The practice of keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to be very effective as a practice. Keeping a journal of things you are grateful for is a great way to also focus attention. As a practice, set aside time once a week to write down five things you are grateful for. Use this as an opportunity to connect with the experience, how it made you feel as well as other details. Interestingly enough researchers have found that journaling too frequently did not have the same impact of doing it once a week.
Practice #2 - Take It Online - A Digital Gratitude Journal
The Center for Greater Good has launched an online digital gratitude journal to study the impact of gratitude. Entited,, you can access it at: Similar to the paper based Gratitude Journal idea,  this digital approach may hold appeal for some of the clients you work with who prefer the online experience.
Practice #3 - Gratitude Letter
A third practice is to write a letter to someone you are grateful to. Describe what you are grateful for, and plan to share this with them, in person, by phone. The act of sharing it is as important as writing the letter. Who are you grateful for?
On the group and team realm, these are all practices people can undertake individually. It can also be useful to build in time during team and group coaching  sessions for sharing gratitude and acknowledgements across the team or group.
Positive psychology and neuroscience are two key areas coaches can benefit learning from, and sharing with their clients. What's on your learning list for 2015?
What other approaches and practices do you recommend around gratitude? As always, please feel free to comment below.
Have a great week,
 Jennifer Britton, MES, PCC, CPCC, CPT | Potentials Realized
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2009) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Join us for one of our year end 2014 programs which include:
The Group Coaching Essentials teleseminar - Tues/Thurs 1 - 2:15 pm ET November 25, December 2, 4, 9 and 11, 2014 (6.75 CCEs)
The two day in person Facilitation Skills Intensive (a two day train-the-trainer): December 15-16, 2014 (Downtown Toronto)
Virtual Business Planning Retreat for Coaches - Wednesdays 4:30 -7:30 pm ET by phone: December 3 and 10, 2014.

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