I practice gratitude. I am committed to doing so, and to making this a more integral part of my live, year by year.
We know from research that gratitude:
- Improves mental health and physical health
- Enhances our sense of well-being
- Makes us more generous and empathic
- Helps us sleep better
- Makes us better team players
- Helps us tackle setbacks and loss.
- It might be tempting to challenge these findings and ask whether correlation and causation have been co-mingled here. But there are strong indications that there actually IS a causal link: gratitude yields many compelling benefits – for ourselves and for those around us.
A friend of mine has a daily rhythm where she takes a bath every evening. While relaxing in the tub, she re-plays the movie of the day in her mind, and she singles out five things that she is grateful for. Five events from the day that is drawing to a close and that she wants to say “thank you” for. I find that inspiring. A simple, powerful ritual. A ritual that anyone can emulate.
I am attending a conference in Phnom Penh this week. I spent part of the weekend prior to the conference going around the city. I visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum that commemorates the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. I also visited the S-21 prison where victims were tortured before they were executed. Sobering. And disturbing. I have visited the concentration camps in Germany and Poland before, but one does not grow immune to this level of human suffering and the evil that lies behind it. The scary part, to me, is that most of the horrors were perpetrated by ordinary people – driven by fear.
I find it important to visit such sites – to honor the victims, to guard against complacency, to be reminded of the darkness we all harbor and to help me practice gratitude. It is all too easy to take for granted the many blessings we enjoy.
At this time I am grateful for (among other things) clean water, good friends, loving parents, the rule of law where I live and deeply meaningful work.
Let us encourage one another to practice gratitude.