- greater happiness and increased positive emotions
- improved health
- reduced stress
- better sleep
- coping with adversity
- emotional resilience
- strong relationship building
- harder working employees
Julie Welch, MD, and Kari Lemme, MD 's shared, in Indiana University's School of Medicine blog Emergency Medicine LeadER, "Taking time to acknowledge the goodness in life is important during times of crisis as it allows a person to shift their perspective, calm fear and anxiety, and maintain a positive outlook in an uncertain situation". Combined with Chester Elton's- co-author of Leading with Gratitude- interview with Forbes, where he states, "When there is so much disruption it is easy to focus constantly on the negative...The issue can be that with the focus always on the negative you wear people out. There is a need to continue to focus on a lot of good things going on as well, to give your people hope and encouragement. Nothing does that better than simple acts of gratitude" make a compelling case for practicing gratitude during times of crisis.
All this isn't to say, we should buck-up and move on. Toxic positivity is real, and that's not what we want to promote. Robert Emmons, PhD, psychology professor at UC Davis and author of Gratitude Works!- shared with Berkeley's Greater Good Magazine, "In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times." Emmons points out that there is a critical difference between feeling grateful and being grateful... that we cannot force ourselves to feel any specific way, but that being grateful as a practice is a choice. "When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances." The research Emmons conducted for his book, shows the effort that is required to achieve a perspective of gratitude (especially in the face of crisis or tragedy) is worth it. "Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted... Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall." says Emmons. Two key considerations for working towards a perspective of gratitude during and in the aftermath of difficult times that Emmons highlights are "Remember the bad" and "Reframing disaster".
MSU and our global Spartan community, have been faced with shocking and unsettling challenges over the past handful of years. Throughout these moments in our collective history, there have been Spartans who stepped up, showed great care, and contributed to our ecosystem in ways that allowed MSU to continue meeting it's mission "to advance knowledge and transform lives by providing outstanding undergraduate, graduate and professional education; conducting research of the highest caliber; and advancing outreach, engagement and economic activities." Join us in the simple act of saying thank you to individuals in MSU's wide educator community (anyone who contributes to the teaching and learning, student success, and/or outreach components of MSU's mission) for the impacts they've had durring these difficult times. Sharing gratitude through #iteachmsu's Thank an Educator initiative only takes a few minutes, but can make a huge impact. Research also shows that a recipient of gratitude and thankfulness will be more generous and helpful to others. By sharing gratitude with your colleagues and peers, you create a ripple of acknowledgement and appreciation that permeates Michigan State University.
Cover image adaped from a photo from Jessica Lewis on Unsplash.