Celebrating Thanksgiving with Gratitude

This has been quite an eventful fall season so far. We’ve finally seen some much-needed rain in the past few days, we’re almost done with our Open Enrollment season (which, by the way has gone so well, thanks to all of you, especially our fantastic Benefits Team!), we’ve had a successful Basketball Tournament Fundraiser at Fairmont, and a big AHS team participated in the Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes. I’d say we’re doing great here at Alameda Health System, and there’s so much more to come before the year’s end.

Photo by Infrogmation sourced through Creative Commons

Photo by Infrogmation sourced through Creative Commons

‘Tis the Season

Thanksgiving is around the corner, so I wanted to point out the value of Gratitude as we move even more deeply into the holiday season.

Did you know that “counting one’s blessings” is a way to increase personal happiness? Scholarly journals like The Journal of Positive Psychology and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology have expounded on the benefits of positive emotions like gratitude on overall human happiness and experiences of life satisfaction. Studies have been done comparing the effects of listing reasons to be grateful vs listing grievances, and the results show measurable changes in outlook and personal sense of wellbeing in the groups listing reasons to be grateful.

photo sourced free through Pixababy via Creative Commons

photo sourced free through Pixababy via Creative Commons

Fostering Gratitude

It’s easy to notice the things going wrong around us, the disruptive parts of our day that ruin our plans or frustrate us. The parking at work, the mud tracked in after all this rain, the grey skies. But there’s always a silver lining, and amid whatever you perceive to be going wrong in your life today or in general, there is always something going well too, something to be grateful for, or at the very least something to learn. How can we spin the things we perceive as disruptive into something to be grateful for? Those mud tracks and grey skies mean more water in our reservoirs when we’re in a state of drought. They mean less water we’re using to water our plants. Those are things to be thankful for! The parking situation means that there are a lot of people coming to AHS to work and make great things happen here. (Sure, that’s a stretch when you’re running late and just need to find somewhere for your car, but it’s not nothing!)

How can we reframe? What’s happened in your life this week that you could reframe into something more positive? Something you can be grateful for?

What if we active sought out things to appreciate?

What would that look like? This method is just as much about mindfulness and being present in your day to day life activities as it is about finding gratitude. If we’re actively seeking positivity around us, if we’re actively looking for the silver lining or the reasons to be grateful for what we are, what we have, what we do, where we live, who’s in our lives? Can you imagine the power that would have over how we treat our friends, family, coworkers, and importantly at AHS, our patients?

photo by Paulien Osse sourced through Creative Commons

photo by Paulien Osse sourced through Creative Commons

This week’s Challenge

As we make our way toward the holidays, it will be tempting to get stressed, frustrated, annoyed with the holiday music, the traffic, etc etc etc…

My challenge to you is to reframe and seek out things to appreciate.

Reframing could mean turning obstacles into challenges, frustration into a joke to laugh about. Use a long line at Target as a way to force yourself to do nothing for a few minutes. Leave your phone in your bag and focus on your breath — make that “you” time. That’s just one example. And when you get to the front of the line, maybe make friendly eye contact with the cashier. Maybe acknowledge how hard he/she’s working during such a busy time of year and tell him/her that he/she’s doing a great job. Thank them. That’s a great way to seek out something to be grateful for. And you might just be making that cashier’s day too.

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