Before we go any further, let’s stop for a moment and reflect on our relationship with gratitude. Can you name 3 things that you are grateful for? Does it come easily or do you need to focus and search for gratitude?
For some of us gratitude is a familiar practice, and for others it may seem very unfamiliar.
For those that practice gratitude regularly and have a strong relationship to appreciating and noticing what is inside and around, is this something that you practice in your private life but is separate from your working life? Are you able to feel and speak to gratitude with your colleagues in the work place?
My mind drifts…
What if we started our board meetings with what we’re thankful for?
What if every Senate meeting or mediation session began with heartfelt words of gratitude?
What if we didn’t only hear public expressions of thanks at the Oscars but in the day to day moments of life?
What would be the changes to society and interactions as we know them?
Recently there has been an upsurge in research on the positive health benefits of gratitude which is bringing this ancient practice into the mainstream and to the attention of a far greater part of the population.
Something that is interesting about gratitude (aside from the health benefits!) is that there is a long and profound history of using gratitude as a practice at beginning any gathering. In fact, it is embedded in the roots of democracy in the United States.
The six nations of the Haudenosaunee (or Iriquois) people – the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Onondaga, Seneca and Tuscarora - of upstate New York and Canada have used this practice for over a thousand years and it continues to be taught in schools today. The governing structure of these tribes formed the initial inspiration and guidance for the foundations of the United States. In 2010 I had the honor of meeting Jake Swamp where he shared this wisdom and the power of gratitude.
This knowledge and practice, that goes back generation on generation, played an essential component in supporting these six tribes to function as one united community through war and colonization. That’s no coincidence. As the research now proves in the language of science, sharing gratitude out loud changes one’s state of mind, and possibly heartrate, which can have major impacts on decision making.
What more do we need to know before we try it on for ourselves? Are you up for the experiment that has both science and over a thousand years of practice to back it up? And if gratitude is already part of your life, are you willing to share it in a new way, a new setting, or with someone new?
Are you willing to take a risk and take gratitude into your workplace? To take what may be a vulnerable step and begin your next meeting with sharing of what you are grateful for?