February 2007

Better sleep, more energy

Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness conducted at UCDavis mentioned some of the benefits of being grateful:

  • Participants felt better about their lives as a whole.
  • They were more optimistic about the upcoming week.
  • They were more likely to have made progress towards important personal goals.
  • They had higher levels of positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy.
  • They had greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, and better sleep duration and sleep quality.

Post-MBA, I see many of my friends working long tiring hours in grueling business jobs, and everyone is complaining of constantly feeling exhausted. Being consciously grateful is an easy way to help improve sleep and energy during the day.

Then again, so is leaving work early and going to bed at 9:30 pm. And no, unfortunately, staying out until 5 am drinking on a work night is not, despite rumors of being a great way to spend your money on experiences you won’t remember the next day.

alarm clock

What we take for granted

A recent article from DailyOM, Empathy in Action discussed another method for practicing gratitude by taking an inventory of your life’s blessings. I tried this once, but then the IRS showed up to audit my accounts, which just made things complicated, and now I have to fill out an additional form when I do my taxes.

coins

The DailyOM suggested a slightly less painful alternative:

consider the ease with which you nourish your body and mind, feed your family, move from place to place, and attend to tasks at hand. For a great number of people, activities you may take for granted, such as attaining an education, buying healthy food, commuting to work, or keeping a clean house, represent great challenges. To experience firsthand the complex tests others face as a matter of course in their daily lives, try living without the amenities you most often take for granted.

From my experience, if you want to try living without the amenities you take for granted, and you decide to sell everything you own on e-bay:
1. Sell your computer last
2. Give the proceeds to charity
3. Move to another country to avoid another governmental audit

Simple gratitude exercise

hands

Gratitude is a very powerful mechanism for letting go of stress in your life and regaining your happiness. Here is a very simple exercise from the Positive Psychology Center at the UPenn in the article A very different kind of upper:

At the end of each day, take a moment to go over three good things that happened to you. Think about why they happened and what you did to make them happen.

You don’t even need to have a good pick-up line.