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Power of WE Podcast Episode 7: How a Consistent and Simple Gratitude Practice Can Decrease Dietary Fat Intake, Reduce Stress, Repair Relationships and Help Achieve Your Goals

a woman writing a note on yellow paper

As mentioned in the Power of WE Episode 6 with Executive Coach Martha Lynn Mangum, gratitude is one of my core values. I believe in the life-changing effects of gratitude, for both the giver and receiver, which is why every November for about the last ten years, our iGnite community participates in something we call "GratefulGrams". To each class in the two-ish weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, our Class Leaders bring pens and pre-printed notes with the headline, "I'm grateful for you", and members are encouraged to reflect and write a little note of gratitude to anyone at all. We collect these, address them, and send them out the week of Thanksgiving.

a woman writing a note

This is one of my absolute favorite things we do as a group and for me personally - I love the ripple effect of gratitude. It was a few years ago, during our GratefulGram month, that my dear friend and fellow iGnite leader, Amy Younkman, gave me one along with a book called Gratitude: A Work in Progress. It chronicles the yearlong journey of Austen Brower who decided to see what writing one thank you note a day might do.

I loved the book and was re-inspired by Austen's 365 gratitude project, along with the other gratitude project examples he sited. While Austen felt and witnessed the positive impacts of his daily expression of gratitude, he provides plenty of the science-backed evidence that daily gratitude positively impacts our physiological and psychological benefits.

Prior to reading Austen's book, I thought I knew a lot about gratitude, but I learned so much more, such as:

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  1. When we write down our daily gratitudes AND write down our goals, we are 20% more likely to accomplish our goals!!! (Download our freeand printable Goals-Setting Workbook and start writing down your goals.)

  2. Dietary fat intake is reduced by as much as 25% when people keep a gratitude journal. WOW!

Gratitude is like a muscle. The more often we use it, the stronger it gets and the better we and the people around us feel. Austen's simple framework for creating your own gratitude practice is so practical and thoughtful, which is why I knew I needed to bring Austen (our very first male guest) to the podcast to learn more.

After listening to this relatable and fun podcast on Spotify HERE or YouTube below, I hope you'll consider adding your very own gratitude practice. I know I sure am!

5 Scientifically Proven Benefits of a Gratitude Practice

Austen sites a study of Dr. Robert A. Emmons, the father of modern gratitude, conducted to articulate the benefits of consistent gratitude practice. You can read the details in the book, but the findings are hard to ignore:

  1. Keeping a gratitude diary for two weeks produced sustained reduction in perceived stress (28%) and depression (16%) in health-care practitioners.

  2. Gratitude is related to 23 percent lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol).

  3. Dietary fat intake is reduced by as much as 25% when people keep a gratitude journal.

  4. Writing a letter of gratitude reduced feelings of hopelessness in 88% of suicidal inpatients and increased levels of optimism in 94% of them.

  5. Gratitude is related to a 10% improvements in sleep quality in patients with chronic pain (76% of whom had insomnia) and 19% lower depression levels.

a white book called gratitude: a work in progress

"Gratitude requires vulnerability. However, rarely are people vulnerable enough to affirm others publicly who helped them succeed. To be vulnerable and share my thanks is actually a form of strength."

5 Myths About Gratitude

As you begin your gratitude project, you may be called to share or debunk some gratitude myths, like:

  1. Gratitude leads to complacency

  2. Gratitude is just a naive form of positive thinking

  3. Gratitude makes us self-effacing

  4. Gratitude isn't possible - or appropriate - in the midst of adversity or suffering

  5. You have to be religious to be grateful.

In the podcast, Austen goes into further detail about each of these and talks about how an understanding of the myths can help you better understand the actual impact of gratitude.

a woman in the mountains, looking and pointing

"We get in life what we look for. Positivity begets positivity."

5 Steps for Organizing Your Own Gratitude Project

You may now be thinking - Yes! Let's do this! Immediately followed by a feeling of overwhelm. Austen offers 5 simple steps to give a framework to your practice that can help give it structure so you'll be more likely to see it through.

  1. Set the Mindset: This is the why - why is this important to you?

  2. Tie to Talents: Build your practice around what you naturally like to do - take a photo each day, write notes, keep a journal.

  3. Identify Stakeholders: Who do you want to focus your gratitude on - family and friends, people you see every day, those from you past?

  4. Prepare & Simplify Deployment: Remove any obstacles before you begin - if you're writing notes, make sure you won't run out of supplies, what time of day will work best for your personality?

  5. Reflect & Celebrate: Recognize where you struggle and where you thrive within your project, acknowledge any changes you notice, experience any joy you've helped to spark.

a woman staring at the ocean, writing in her journal

"Let go of expectations. A mindset composed of a compelling "why" and little expectations helped me enjoy the journey."

Podcasts We Think You'll Enjoy in the New Year

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