The Well: Understanding the Power of Gratitude

ADVICE/COMMENTARY

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By Andi Pyatt

“The Well” is a recurring column to remind us of the power we possess in mind, body and spirit.

Managing our anxiety has become a full time job in this Covid-19 existence. Every day, hour, minute, and second we feel the ebb and flow of this rapidly changing world. We are relying upon old systems to provide us with new information that we are unable to hold and make sense of. At times it seems that this cannot be real. We are caught in a cycle of grief that seems to have no end. The first stage of grief is isolation and denial, a stage many have felt forced to maintain for the past 80 days. Our physical, mental, and spiritual constructs have been, and continue to be, tested in a manner that feel as if we are teetering on the edge of a cliff at any given moment. Even the most emotionally intelligent of us are finding it challenging to maintain homeostasis. The common question of “How are you?” takes on an entirely new meaning. No longer is the cursory answer of “fine” an appropriate response for many. In fact, I have noticed a change in how we recently check in with each other. I often hear the question, “How are you maintaining?” This question translates into how we are maintaining intrapersonal balance. This balance allows us to feel the serenity that comes with the understanding that everything is working out for our good and we live in a state of consistent gratitude.

Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author. (Courtesy Photo)

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that is associated with happiness. Studies have shown that gratitude has positive psychological, social, and physical benefits. The physical benefits include a stronger immune system, ideal cardiac functioning, and better sleep. Social benefits include improved communication and healthier interpersonal relationships. Psychological benefits involve improved self-awareness, reflection, and esteem.  Science has been successful in reinforcing what we as a collective and powerful people have understood for generations. Despite unimaginable turmoil and trauma, people of African descent, worldwide, have cultivated a culture filled with gratitude as means of survival. As I reflect on the words and actions of my grandparents, they all have a central theme of living in a state of thanks. Because of that energy generations have moved forward in strength.  During these times it is imperative to take a moment to reflect on opportunities to shift your energy from survival to thriving by expressing our thanks in some of the following ways:

  1.   Keep a gratitude journal or notebook– Each day spend five-minutes writing all the aspects of your day that have been positive. Set a timer and immerse yourself in the phase, “I am thankful for…”. Spending time thinking about what you’re thankful for shifts your mindset to allow happiness to flow within despite what is happening around you. You begin to focus on abundance as opposed to lack.
  1.   Send a text, email, and/or direct message to someone expressing your love for them. – In this evolving world of technology it takes less than thirty seconds to send a short loving message. Just sending a positive thought to someone can be life altering.
  1.   Offer your time to support someone without expectation. – Giving of oneself is one of the highest forms of interpersonal connection. We all require help from time to time. Offering our self in this manner allows us to understand the perspective of another person. This heightens our sense of self-awareness and develops empathy. 

The above actions are certainly not an exhaustive list of how to express gratitude, however, in this time of social isolation, it is a great way to begin.  As you incorporate these ways to show thanks, take note of how you feel when the moments of anxiety begin to arise. Focus on your ability to identify what is real and true in the moment. When those feelings of uncertainty begin to creep into your space, reclaim your power by being grateful for understanding this opportunity to express thanks. Finally, find serenity and confidence in knowing you are a vital component of the collective consciousness of humanity.

Andi Pyatt is an educator, entrepreneur, wellness professional, and author (Julia Belle) of the new children’s book, Sunflower’s Breath.  She holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology/Neuroscience from Williams College and a graduate degree in Health Science from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.