A few years ago I went through a significant amount of life disruption in a short period of time. People who know me realize that is an understatement, but the reality is I got knocked down and although I knew things would eventually get better, I was desperate for a way to speed up the process. During this time someone forwarded me a newsletter from an organization I had never heard of that mentioned a study connecting gratitude and joy; apparently some psychologists had discovered “the pathway to joy begins with gratitude.”
I was skeptical, but as I continued reading I learned it was not based on just one study but there had actually been hundreds of studies conducted that led many well respected psychologists to conclude that practicing gratitude…
+ increases positive emotions
+ reduces depression
+ strengthens relationships
+ and helps people face stressful life events
At that point in my life I was painfully aware I wasn’t experiencing “positive emotions” and it was becoming clear I couldn’t become a happier person just by wanting to be happy, so I decided to trust the research and try something big.
I focused my energy on the people I was most grateful for and began a year of adventures I called “Make a Wish” in which my friends and family each picked something they wanted to see or do and then we did it together. It was an incredible collection of experiences that you can read more about here, but the thing I want to share with you is that the study’s conclusion became a reality in my life.
I still had to work through the pain of the difficult things that had happened in my life, but waking up each day with the mindset that I was going to give the best of myself to the people and things I cared the most about helped me bust out of the cycle of shame and sadness, and instead of wasting time feeling sorry for myself I went on fun trips with people I loved and got to be right next to them when they were doing things they’d always dreamed of doing!
I tell you this story and about the study that inspired it because Thanksgiving is coming up and, rather than just having something to say when your grandma asks what you’re thankful for before eating turkey and mashed potatoes, this could be the year you gain a deeper understanding of who/what you’re most grateful for so you can re-orient your time, energy and thoughts to reflect the appreciation you have for these people and things.
Sounds great, but what’s the idea already?!
I have set up a Gratitude Challenge starting Nov 9 (this Thursday) and running through Nov 22 (the day before Thanksgiving). This is part of a project called Thnx4 from the Greater Good Science Center, which is the organization that first helped me learn about the connection between gratitude and joy!
The challenge is completely free and although I will provide more information below, if you already know you want to sign up now, just go to Thnx4.org and select “Align” as your Group membership code. To learn more, read on…
A Gratitude Challenge for Busy Adults
We all lead busy lives, and stress and burnout is far too common. While there’s no easy fix, research has suggested that one effective way to protect yourself from stress is by practicing gratitude.
A great way to do this is to join us at Align in our 10-Day Gratitude Challenge on Thnx4.org that begins Thursday, November 9. Register today (or anytime before Thursday the 9th) on Thnx4.org, and select Align as your Group membership code.
How to Join Align’s Gratitude Challenge (step-by-step guide)
Step 1: Register on www.thnx4.org before the challenge begins on Thursday, November 9. Use Group Membership code Align.
Step 2: Look for an account verification email from Thnx4 to the email you registered with, and verify your account by pressing the link within. *Make sure your email permits future emails from Thnx4.org into your primary inbox.
Step 3: Complete the pre-challenge survey that pops up when you verify your account.
Step 4: Look for a second email from Thnx4 for adding this Gratitude Challenge to your calendar, click on the link and tailor the specific times and dates to your convenience, and you are all set to go!
What to Expect
- A series of emails/text messages with motivating, science-based insight about gratitude, and an invitation to post moments of thankfulness or being thanked to your Thnx4 Gratitude Journal.
- A personalized dashboard that illustrates the trajectory and impact of your gratitude practice on Thnx4
- A group-wide impact dashboard, as well as a group-wide Thnx4 Gratitude Journal so you can Say Thnx to others doing this challenge through Align.
- As if all this wasn’t enough, practicing gratitude has also been shown to improve physical and mental health, stronger feelings of connection and satisfaction in relationships, reduces the risk of heart disease and leads to better sleep.