Friday, November 23, 2012

The Gratitude Challenge

If your household is anything like mine, you spent the greater part of this week in throes of planning your Thanksgiving dinner, figuring out what football games you will be watching and trying to decide how to keep the best leftovers for yourself. It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. But I’d like to believe that for the rest of this year and well into the next that from time to time I will take a breath and think about those things for which I am most thankful.
Earlier this year, I invited my team to participate in a “Gratitude Challenge”.  I got the idea after hearing Shawn Acor, author of The Happiness Advantage speak on the value of Performance. His research confirms that optimism and happiness are universal predictors of success. Good news: the research also showed that happiness can be cultivated and is contagious. He suggested five simple actions that if practiced for a few minutes a day, for 21 days, would significantly improve your happiness over the upcoming year.
So we tried it as a team.  It was surprisingly simple; we set up a shared site to post our thoughts.  I suggested that every morning, for 21 consecutive days, we each paused for a moment and posted three things that for which we were grateful.  I asked them to be specific.  For example, they wouldn’t simply post, “my family," but a more detailed grateful statement like, “my son is home from college this week and we got a chance to visit."   Some chose to post, others preferred to make notes in a personal journal that they would not share, but no matter what method they chose, for all it was an amazing experience! I feel compelled to share with you the following post.

“I have been practicing a gratitude journal for years and find it inspiring that UnitedHealth Group has introduced it to the "corporate" world.  It is so easy in our everyday lives to get caught up in the craziness and think "why me"" and slip into a funk.  Many years ago I had slipped into a deep funk and decided it was time for a positive change.  Someone introduced me to the concept of writing down 5 things that I am grateful for and 5 things that I want.  They told me that I would slowly start to see the things I wanted become the things I was grateful for.  I thought what a bunch of hooey but with nothing to lose but a few minutes every day and the cost of a notebook, I set on my journey.  In the beginning it felt good just to write down "I am grateful to have made it through another day".  As time went by, it was magical to watch the transition as my wants became my thanks.  If you made it to this point in my post there is a reason you read the whole thing.  Nothing happens by chance.  Perhaps it is time for you to start on your journey and realize that all great things come from gratitude.”

 Well, not much else for me to say, I think you get it.

Sue Schick and some of her grateful team members


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