by Mark McConnell, MD
According to Robert Emmons, gratitude is an affirmation of goodness and recognition that the source of goodness is outside of ourselves. “We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received…and we acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude:
How to practice Gratitude:
Three Good Things
Based on the research done by Martin Seligman in his book, Flourish, this is one of the easiest ways to practice gratitude and has an enduring effect. Every night for two weeks you right down three good things that happened in your life—they do not have to be big. It can be as simple as someone opening the door for you to as deep as having someone tell you that you have made their life special. It doesn’t matter how significant, but just reminding yourself of three good things that happened during the day improves the biochemistry of your mind and acts like an anti-depressant. If you practice "three good things" for two weeks you will have an enduring benefit for a year that is MORE effective than taking an SSRI anti-depressant for a year!
We practiced this at St. Luke’s Leadership Team and found it very beneficial. Some people shared their three good things with other loved ones every night for two weeks and found significant benefit in this shared gratitude.
Letters of Gratitude
Barbara Fredricksen, in her book Positivity, says that this attitude helps you see new possibilities, bounce back from setbacks, connect with others and become the best version of yourself. You need a ratio of three positive emotions to one negative emotion in order to foster resilience Consider writing a letter of gratitude to one of your colleagues. The letter must be authentic and answer these three questions: a) What you did b) How it impacted me c) Here is what it says about you
You can find more information to foster gratitude in your life at:
By Steven Reames
It’s 4 AM and you are in over your head. You just lost a patient. Or you just lost it with a co-worker. Again. You’re exhausted and you’re ready to throw in the towel. But, you’ve got six more days to muddle through before you’re going to get a real break. How are you going to bounce back?
I firmly believe that everybody needs a 4 AM friend – this is a confidant that you can reach out to any time of the day by phone or text AND they’re going to get back to you, sit with you in your ashes, maybe even pray with you if you have a common faith. What they’re not going to do is judge you for being “weak” or “human” because they know that they are too.
This kind of relationship takes effort. It requires a willingness to reach out, test the waters of friendship, in order to have a mutual commitment to being vulnerable in your weakest moments and expecting confidential treatment. It requires maintenance and a deepening of trust when there is no emergency so that when actually there is, you feel free to reach out. In return, of course, it means you being available to return the same favor and consideration.
When you need that person – and for doctors, it is probably going to be multiple times in your career – they are going to be your life preserver.
Now, does this have to be a physician? I suppose not, although they may be more uniquely qualified to understand your stress points than others. I’m hoping if you are married that your spouse is one of your 4 AM friends. But frankly, on some things, I really need somebody other than my wife to talk with and gain perspective and encouragement from.
There is a scientifically based reason for all of this by the way: did you know that friendship – the tending to and befriending of others – actually releases oxytocin into your body?* That’s far healthier for the long term than any other chemical that does the same. And it’s natural too!
So can I encourage you: take a moment to think of somebody you trust that might be your 4 AM Friend. Don’t dive into the deep end of the pool in the relationship, but rather wade in gradually, opening up areas of your heart and mind to see if they reciprocate. Pro-actively, keep an eye out for your buddy and they’ll keep their eye out for you – and when you’re in a pinch, you’ll be within arm’s reach.
*. Carter, C.S., Lederhendler, I.I., & Kirkpatrick, B., eds. (1999). The integrative neurobiology of affiliation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press
By Steven Reames
This summer, I was privileged to attend two different conferences for professional and personal development: the first was directly related to my profession as a medical society executive was outstanding for relationship building with people who do the same thing as me. The other was a general leadership summit simulcast and the content was simply outstanding, internationally renowned authors and speakers like Patrick Lencioni and John Maxwell.
But both had the same impact: I came out of those meetings completely recharged and energized for the work I do, both the daily how to do things better and smarter and more effectively as well as the larger strategic and visionary things.
Now, I’m built as a leader and I love innovating so for me, this is what fills up my bucket. My energy and passion levels are at their peak.
For you it might be different: perhaps you know you need to develop your speaking skills because you do more public presentations than you thought you would. You might consider a Toastmasters group, which is a very effective way of improving your confidence with leadership and public speaking. But it also could be taking a recreational class like ballroom dancing or tennis.
Here’s the thing about personal and professional development and how it relates to resiliency: the benefit of actually learning the skills or information is one thing. But the secondary benefits are 1) getting the endorphin hits from your “aha” and “I did it moments” and probably most importantly developing relationships with others learning alongside you.
Can I challenge you: do you have regular time set aside for personal and professional development – and I’m not talking about sitting in front of a computer taking CME online – but actually alongside other human beings? If not, I believe it will do you a world of good for you.