Gratitude is a powerful practice that impacts your life, and the lives of those for whom you are grateful. And, did you know that there are THREE kinds of gratitude? It’s true!
• There is gratitude for what’s to come, called anticipation.
• Gratitude for what’s happening right now, called savoring.
• And gratitude for what has happened already, called reminiscing.
On this week’s episode we dig into all three kinds of gratitude, and how best to benefit from a gratitude practice.
Join me as I discuss:
• Why the key to all three forms of gratitude is to go deep into them
• How gratitude re-wires your brain to deliver major health and wellness benefits
• Why Gratitude shouldn’t be a vague, muted practice. It works best when it’s detailed, robust, and vibrant!
Gratitude is a powerful way to bring more joy into your life without having to wait for anyone else to come around, and before anything changes out there.
And that’s exactly the kind of fuel that powers Great Work.
Take a listen!
Welcome to unleashing your great work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda Crowell, a cognitive psychologist, coach, and the creator of the great work journals. Every week on this podcast, we are asking the big questions. What is great work? And why does it matter so much to us? What does it take to do more of your great work without sacrificing everything else? And how does the world change when more people are doing more of the work that matters the most to them? So whether your great work is building your own small business, or managing a remote team at a multinational company, you'll find insight and answers here.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Self expertise is a concept that I talked about at length in my forthcoming book, great work coming June 7, who self expertise is knowledge about ourselves, accepting that we are specific and quirky and particular How can we, me and you best meet our goals? Self expertise will tell you when you're best equipped to do great work are you most reflective and creative in the morning, or at midnight, it can tell you what to eat to recover from sadness and what not to eat. Because it makes you feel tired and heavy. It can give you information about how you best collaborate, who you need on your team to offset your weaknesses, and a whole host of other useful facts about yourself. Self expertise is about accepting yourself for who you are, and then optimizing your environment around those particulars. Some of the most powerful self expertise is about what works to help you feel better, and bounce back from adversity or disappointment. One area of self expertise that you will definitely want to generate is expertise about how best to harness the practice of gratitude. Now, according to Fred Bryan and Joseph Roth in their book savoring, there are three kinds of gratitude, gratitude for things that you hope and expect to happen called anticipation. Gratitude for something that is happening right now called savoring, and gratitude for what has already happened called reminiscence. Each of these practices will operate differently for each of us. Depending on our natural tendencies, you will discover that some things, raise your emotions and generate gratitude quickly, while other things fall flat and feel empty. Knowing what works for you and what doesn't constitutes your own self expertise about gratitude. For some people, focusing on big moments of joy in their own life, such as reminiscing about their wedding day, is a surefire way to generate feelings of gratitude. For others. The real gratitude comes from thinking about smaller ordinary moments like when your partner brings you a cup of coffee or you get a really great parking spot. For still others gratitude for things that happen to others, such as when your sister calls to tell you she got a new job generate big waves of gratitude. As you practice anticipation, savoring and reminiscing across the many moments of your life, you will learn what works best to bring on the gratitude. Now, across the board, the real goal of gratitude is to bring your attention to the positive details of your experiences in a way that taps deeply into the emotion and evokes feelings of satisfaction, happiness and joy. When you are reminiscing, remember the warm feel of the cup of coffee in your cold hands. When savoring notice the curl of your daughter's hair or the look on your managers face when you tell her you got the deal. Whenever you are engaging in gratitude, focusing on these smaller details will evoke a deeper emotional connection than simply thinking about the overall memory. So let's try it. bring to mind something for which you are grateful. It can be a family member you love, an accomplishment you're proud of, or a lovely experience that you had. Now, just let yourself expertise guide you. So as an example, let's say that you're grateful for the fact that you live close to the ocean. You could just say that, like I'm grateful that I live so close to the ocean, and you might feel a little surge of satisfaction in your chest. Hi, I'm glad I live close to the ocean. But now see how it feels when you add details. Try this. I'm glad I live close enough to the ocean to drive past it three times a day. I love to stop, get out of the car stand on the sand and admire the vastness of the ocean. Or I can close my eyes and listen, hearing seagulls overhead and the crash of waves down below. visualizing this experience in all of its specificity allows you to feel the deep peace that you get when you're near the ocean.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
Can you see the difference between In this deep, specific experience, and the sort of vague sense of wellness we get, we just say, I'm glad I live close to the ocean. This push to generate details as well as a recommendation that you reactivate your gratitude multiple times, is because this is how gratitude hacks your brain. You see, your brain and mind has a strong negativity bias. Researchers estimate that your brain will return to a negative experience 10 times more often than it will return to a positive experience. Some of this negativity bias comes from our protective instincts to stay safe, but some of it comes from just habit, memories that we revisit are strengthened in terms of their neural connections. That strengthening means that they are more likely to be visited again, even without your conscious intent. A gratitude practice activates our positive memories several times. anticipating a positive experience gives our positive memory a really strong, connected starting place. Paying attention to the details as it occurs, creates a really strong memory trace that you can return to and then reactivating the memory and the connected emotions while reminiscing allows us to prime those positive memories so they occur to us over and over again. My son recently decided that he wanted to play the guitar. My son recently decided that he wanted to learn how to play the guitar. As such, we bought him an electric guitar or a rocket guitar as he calls it, and signed him up for lessons at the School of Rock. Their programs like the movie of the same name is designed around a live performance and so every week he goes for a private lesson and then to a group performance lesson. The performance lesson is based around a particular artist or a style of music. ALEKS chose a performance program focused on the Beatles. Suddenly my home was ringing with the harmonies of Let It Be Yellow Submarine come together and Hey Jude. About halfway through the program, Alex asked his coach if he could sing in the performance. And he agreed. Alex and I both thought this was very good news. And I made it my business to savor all of it while it was happening. As a family, we spent an entire afternoon listening to The Beatles top hits. We discovered that while most of us appreciate Paul McCartney songs, Alex naturally fell towards John Lennon. And I noticed that Alex took pride in being the only one of us who really appreciated the grittier and more personal lyrics of John Lennon. I put my arm around Alex as he and I sat on his bed practicing his songs. The feeling of his little body shaking as he projected his voice to sing loud and proud, brought tears to my eyes. Now, if savoring is about being fully aware of goodness as it occurs anticipation, it's about looking forward to a lovely moment before it happens. In the weeks leading up to the performance, I shared stories with Alex of my own performance experiences. We bought Beatle shirts for all of us to wear to the performance. We rallied our friends and families and provided a link and a few reminders so they could watch his performance over zoom. And I told everyone at work how excited I was to go to his performance. On the day of his performance we practiced got dressed in the Beatle shirts, and cheered when we dropped him off at his final rehearsal. After his performance we intentionally reminisced as a family over dinner, we reviewed the performance sharing our favorite moments, we sang the songs again and asked Alex what it was like for him, allowing him to reminisce. Since then, whenever one of us wears our Beatle shirt, we tell a story about his performance, reigniting those memories and experiencing that gratitude all over again. All of these intentional efforts help us to see all that our life has to offer, and will fundamentally change our perception of that life, seeing it more positively. So when we activate and reactivate our positive memories, we will perceive our life as more positive and will be happier, even if nothing else changes. Of course, it's not like nothing else will change. In fact, other things definitely will change. Gratitude makes us happier, which in turn makes us more open to new experiences.Dr. Amanda Crowell:
It makes us feel more satisfied which improves our relationships. And gratitude can reduce cortisol which is a stress hormone in our blood and that can ease some physical complaints. The intentional practice of gratitude has been linked to a number of positive outcomes, all of which lead to a greater feeling of overall wellness. Peter, a writer a feature in my book, had taken a sabbatical to focus on writing his first full length screenplay. He was struggling to make progress and starting to panic that he was going to end up wasting his sabbatical. Peter benefited greatly from gratitude practice while he was trying to calm down enough to figure out how to make peace rests on his screenplay. Before his writing was flowing, he expressed gratitude for the great ideas he was collecting in his brainstorming app. When his words did begin to flow, he expressed gratitude for each and every one of them. And when he had his first breakthrough day, he paid attention to the details, and took note of how excited relieved and delighted he was to have found his voice again, Peter used the great work journal to support this gratitude practice. Every day, the great work journal prompts you to name something for which you are grateful. I encouraged him to dig into the details of what he was grateful for, so that he could activate a specific emotional memory. So instead of I'm grateful that I was able to write today, he writes, I'm grateful that I wrote 500 words today. It felt like such a relief when I felt myself sink into the zone for the first time in a few weeks, and I loved the dialogue that came pouring out in the second act. These details will allow him to revisit this memory and feel those feelings again, giving him twice the impact from one breakthrough. And at the end of every day, we're prompted to reminisce about our favorite memory from that day. This two part practice makes the good parts of our life visible, and gives us a deep well of memories to visit when we've had a hard day. And we need a reminder of how far we've come. Reflecting on these memories has another benefit to you will become keenly aware of what you like, what you value, and who you are. Self expertise like this will be critical as you work to keep your health and happiness intact while you unleash your great work.