This morning I went for a run in the snow. With a snow day laid out in front of me, I figured a quick run would do me well in the long run(puns!). As I ran along the road and the snow picked up,
covered in my cozy dry fit running apparel…
in my custom fit running shoes…
while my husband watched the kids…
on my way to the grocery store for tomato soup to enjoy after sledding…
I let my mouth hang open. I caught mouthfuls of snow. I smiled like a little kid. For a split second I thought about how ridiculous I would look to passing cars. Then I realized it would just make them smile too. Snow is rare here (it’s usually ice crap). So I took a single moment to enjoy it. Appreciate it. Show gratitude.
I’m trying to do more of that lately. Not for a hashtag. Not for a clever instagram enlightening moment with a picture of a sunset. I’m doing it because gratitude breeds happiness. It’s science! In the paper “Grateful experiences and expressions: the role of gratitude expressions in the link between gratitude experiences and well-being” by by Steve Yoshimura and UM Communication Studies MA program alumni Kassandra Berzins, they found scientific evidence that saying “Thank You” and other forms of gratitude make you happier. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
“One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”
Being grateful is easy…and should be more routine than it is. It’s not our fault though…our brains get into these cycles where it is easier to worry about the obstacles in front of us instead of really considering the ones we already overcame. There is even a name for it ““The Headwinds/ Tailwinds Asymmetry.” And they believe there is something to the research above…taking time to note those things that got you to where you are (tailwinds), you will ultimately be happier. Now what are some tailwinds? Your health. Your family….
“When you ask people what are you grateful for, the prototypical answer is: my parents, my family, my friends, my loved ones. What they’re missing is all these invisibles.” – Shai Davidi
Pay Attention to Your Invisibles
This is where running the snow comes in. In that moment, I can realize how great things are. Instead of thinking of nuclear winter…I can just…enjoy winter. Enjoy working for a company that allows me flexibility to work from home. Enjoy the smiles on my kids’ faces when they see it piling up outside. Enjoy the coffee when I get home.
There are my “invisibles” but even these are more obvious than some. Dig farther back into my tailwinds and I can find more.
when I get a blocked nose I fully sit and think about times when my nose wasn't blocked and how I took it for granted
— dia♠️ (@savagestxph) October 13, 2014
I am grateful because I can go to the grocery store anytime and buy whatever I want because I have a good job and a supportive spouse. Oh and I have little debt because my parents planned for me to have college paid for…giving me an advantage at a crucial time.
I am grateful because while some times my kids issues drive me crazy to tears, I know they’re head strong personalities will serve them well in other ways. Maybe just not in this fight over bathtime.
I am grateful for the education I got to help me make informed decisions from how the internet works to how to choose healthy foods.
You get my point, I think.
In the past 2 months, we have been working with both boys on their emotional development more and more. Turning the negatives into positives. The more we do it as a family, the better I feel. So the next time you feel like life sucks, maybe glance at your tailwinds…you might just perk up.
I got this research from 2 of my favorite podcasts. One is actually my kids’ podcast Wow in the World, Episode 1. They focused on the health benefits of gratitude. In the later research mentioned, I got from Freakonomics episode “Why is my life so hard?“. I highly recommend both of these.