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Dr Georgianna Donadio

Dr Georgianna Donadio PhD

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  1. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Broken Heart Syndrome Increase During Pandemic

    J, Thanks for posting this interesting article! Here is another article on the subject which includes information by Dr Helen Fisher, which explains why this syndrome is so painful and debilitating. Kind regards, Georgianna https://allnurses.com/the-science-heartbreak-t714238/?tab=comments#comment-7532461
  2. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Harming Ourselves and the Planet?

    Hello Juniper, Thank you for your comment. Yes, our rain forests are vital components of the larger, global eco-system. The Rainforest Alliance has this to say about them: "Rainforests are often called the lungs of the planet for their role in absorbing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and producing oxygen, upon which all animals depend for survival. Rainforests also stabilize climate, house incredible amounts of plants and wildlife, and produce nourishing rainfall all around the planet." World cultures are impacting almost all aspects of nature, which is having its cumulative effects and negatively effecting the collective "us." The sci-fi movies of humans living under large bubbles with synthetic air, may not be fiction but at some point the future of our planet! Hoarding is a serious, difficult condition. Psychology Today has this to say about hoarding: "Without exception, hoarding is accompanied by varying levels of anxiety and, often, depression as well. Neuroimaging studies have revealed peculiar commonalities among hoarders including severe emotional attachment to inanimate objects and extreme anxiety when making decisions. Hoarding both relieves anxiety and generates it. The more hoarders accumulate, the more insulated they feel from the world and its dangers. But of course, the more they accumulate, the more isolated they become from the outside world, including family and friends. Even the thought of discarding or cleaning out hoarded items produces extreme feelings of panic and discomfort." Your aunt, like mpost hoarders, may be looking to create a sense of insulation and safety for herself. No doubt that life can be hard for people, on many levels and for many reasons. Thanks again for sharing and your minimalism - which helps all of us - and the planet! Kind regards, Georgianna
  3. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Harming Ourselves and the Planet?

    CDC Statistics According to the CDC’S National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 6 in 10 American adults currently suffer from a chronic disease, while a further 4 in 10 have multiple chronic conditions. Furthermore, the treatment of chronic disease and mental health conditions accounts for 90% of the nation’s $3.5 trillion annual health care expenditures. Among these conditions are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cancer, the chief causes of which are lifestyle choices such as poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and smoking. Overconsumption Recent data shows that our tendency for overconsumption – individually and collectively – is taking a toll not only on our health but that of the planet’s health, as well. By now, most of us serving in health care, are aware that overconsumption of food, alcohol, drugs, and debt, along with an under consumption of meaningful physical activity, rest and a balanced work-life are the main contributors to the numbers we see from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Life-Style Changes Needed The national pattern of overconsumption is also evident in the toll which our ambition for a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” variety of affluence has taken on the environment. In a newly released paper from the University of New South Wales in Australia, researchers came to the conclusion that “technology will only get us so far when working towards sustainability - we need far-reaching lifestyle changes and different economic paradigms.” According to lead author, Professor Tommy Wiedmann, "Recent scientists' warnings have done a great job at describing the many perils our natural world is facing through crises in climate, biodiversity, and food systems, to name but a few. However, none of these warnings has explicitly considered the role of growth-oriented economies and the pursuit of affluence…” The researchers point out the alarming fact that, over the past 40 years, global wealth growth has outpaced any gains from new technologies in terms of the impacts of overconsumption to our environment and to our overall health. “Technology can help us to consume more efficiently, I.e. to save energy and resources,” Wiedmann says, “but these technological improvements cannot keep pace with our ever-increasing levels of consumption." Wealth and Affluence This overconsumption is spurred in part by the idea, central to our economic system, that wealth and affluence is an inherent good and something we should all aspire to. This, says co-author Julia Steinberger, is “actually dangerous and leads to planetary-scale destruction.” The notion that economic growth, even if done in a “sustainable way”, is an unqualified positive need to be reevaluated in light of the evidence, according to Professor Wiedmann. "As long as there is growth - both economically and in population - technology cannot keep up with reducing impacts, the overall environmental impacts with only increase.” The current chronic disease epidemic we are facing in this country and the wider environmental crisis stem from shared individual and collective behaviors, influenced by cultural and economic models which encourage what some have termed “mindless consumerism”. The push for a life of “champagne wishes and caviar dreams”, and the stresses incurred in trying to achieve it, have left many with a sense of unfulfillment and emptiness as they strive to keep up with the Joneses. Getting Off the Hamster Wheel However, recent events give a sense of cautious optimism. One of the silver linings of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the opportunity to pause and get off the “hamster wheel”. Being home with family has helped many to simplify and put into perspective what is important in life. Growing awareness has also led to increased calls for policies to alleviate economic and social inequality, as well as increase environmental safeguards. Hopefully, this signals a wider awakening into a true big picture perspective of how everything is truly connected to everything. References Chronic Diseases in America Lifestyle changes and reducing overconsumption could help address environmental crises
  4. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    The Need for Human Touch and Connection

    In a previous article, we presented a 2019 report from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration that discussed the impact of loneliness on health. As many of us may be experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic, being cut off from friends and loved ones can be impactful even if we are not lonely, but find ourselves more alone than we care to be. Social Distancing and Working Remotely Social distancing, now embedded in popular consciousness, has brought its own set of challenges as we adjust to working remotely, altering our habits as consumers, and enduring being away from family and friends indefinitely. This isolation, though helpful in mitigating the physical spread of the virus, has brought its own set of challenges, among them pervasive feelings of anxiety and loneliness. This is compounding what many Americans were feeling prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Loneliness The same 2019 U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration report addressed this dynamic and stated: “Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.” With the necessity of having to change our social interactions and relationships, as lockdowns and social distancing protocols continue through many parts of the country, the pre-existing stress of loneliness or the feeling of aloneness, is often amplified as we spend further time apart from loved ones and friends. Skin Hunger This can lead to the emergence of a phenomenon known as “skin hunger”, born of the desire for healthy, consensual physical contact with a partner, friend, or family member. In a Psychology Today blogpost titled, “What Lack of Affection Can Do to You”, Kory Floyd, PhD., highlights the following statistics regarding “skin hunger”: Three out of every four adults agree with the statement, “Americans suffer from skin hunger.” More Americans live alone than ever before. One in four Americans reports not having a single person to talk to about important issues. Loneliness among American adults has increased by 16 percent in the last decade. Furthermore, Floyd writes: “Just as lack of food, water, and rest have their detrimental effects, so too does the lack of affection. In a recent study of 509 adults, I examined the construct of skin hunger—and the social, relational, and health deficits with which it is associated. The results were consistent and striking. People with high levels of skin hunger are disadvantaged in multiple ways, compared to those with moderate or low levels.” People with higher levels of skin hunger, according to the studies, were more likely to: Be less happy. Be more lonely. Experience stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. Have secondary immune disorders. Develop alexithymia, a condition that hampers the ability to express and interpret emotion. Floyd concludes: “These findings don’t establish that skin hunger causes all of these negative conditions, only that people who feel highly affection-deprived are more likely than others to experience them. If you’re one of those people, though, these findings probably come as no surprise. Affectionate contact is so necessary for a healthy life that we suffer when we don’t get enough.” Physical Touch Studies have shown that physical touch, whether of a sexual nature or not, provides a myriad of health benefits including reduction of the stress hormone cortisol and improved emotional health. Though this is much less of an issue for spouses, cohabitating couples, and roommates, the question remains of how single people and couples who are separated during lockdown can fulfill their touch hunger and alleviate depression and anxiety. Thankfully, there are some lifestyle choices that can help. Lifestyle Choices Engaging in self-affection, such as self-massage or skin touch. Research has shown that self-touch has many of the same physical and emotional benefits as interpersonal contact. Pet ownership, along with the sense of companionship it can provide, can help reduce stress and anxiety. Caring for plants has shown to reduce loneliness and generate a positive mindset. Our human need for interpersonal connection, affection and human touch has been demonstrated in numerous research studies and in reports of how healing touch and affection can alter vital signs and increase recovery. Several years ago, a surgeon, who was featured in People magazine, showed statistical date he gathered on how, during surgery, having a patient’s hand being held during surgery improved their vital signs and recovery from anesthesia both pre and post-op. Human Touch is a Powerful Medicine A wonderful article called “Florence Nightingale, Healing Touch and the Year of the Nurse”, by Energy Magazine, the official publication of the Healing Touch Program, is well worth reading to explore this further. References The "Loneliness Epidemic"- HRSA What Lack of Affection Can Do to You COVID-19 Is Causing “Skin Hunger” for Many of Us 10 Incredible Benefits of Owning a Pet
  5. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Hello ICUman, Glad the article was helpful. Yes, pets are great companions. As you probably know, many nursing homes and assisted living facilities are having dogs and other pets brought in to visit their residents with excellent results. We humans need our connection with each other which makes this pandemic so difficult in addition to causing much suffering. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kind regards, Georgianna
  6. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Hello All, Wanted to share this April 24th article on Loneliness. https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/17/health/loneliness-epidemic-coronavirus-healing-wellness/?hpt=ob_blogfooterold All good wishes, Georgianna
  7. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Hello Daisy4RN - Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Yes, it appears that we humans need varying degrees of interaction but that we are happier and healthier when we have some in our lives. It has been noted that people involved in societal violence tend to be "loners" - individuals who function outside the norms of healthy, caring relationships. Psychologists say we need to belong, to feel connected to each other in some form or another. Let's hope that some good might come out of this pandemic and we become more aware of our need for others; that we might become kinder and more compassionate as a result of this difficult time we are all going through. I'm with you Daisy! Let's hope the shutdown ends soon and we can reconnect with our friends and families again! Hugs matter!! 🙂 Thanks again! All the best, Georgianna
  8. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Hello Myword1, You are absolutely right that "aloneness is not always loneliness". We can be alone and yet feel that there are people in our lives that care about us and are there if we reach out to connect. We can have loving pets or a community or worship group that provide us a sense of belonging. There is ample, solid evidence and multiple research studies that have been done in the past 15 years ( you can Google "Pubmed studies on loneliness") that show the relationship of feeling that we don't belong - which is what loneliness is all about - with the incidence to chronic disease. We can be alone but not lonely and be with large numbers of people and feel all alone. It has to do with how connected or valued we feel, which appears to be an essential part of our human need. Sharing our human experience, good, bad or indifferent, is something that appears to be good for us. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject. Kind regards, Georgianna
  9. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Hello "Hit with the Ladies"- Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that you feel "people suck". It must be challenging to feel that way and be in the service of caring for others as a nurse. Being in a difficult or hostile situation with another person can really be hard on our health, for sure. Ironically, though interacting with another person, even in conflict, can be less of an impact then being in isolation. The cruelest punishment we can experience is solitary confinement or to be ostracized from a family or group of friends, because as human beings we are wired to connect with others. While being alone doesn't equate to loneliness, not being connected to others or sharing our experiences/life with someone we feels cares about us appears to be significant. Insurance actuarial data shows that people live statistically longer even if they are in a difficult marriage or relationship than they do if they are alone. Pet ownership has made a huge difference for many people. Having unconditional love from a pet can often take the place of a human relationship, as you say, without the fights and power struggles. Thanks for sharing, All the best, Georgianna
  10. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Consequences of Loneliness

    Loneliness and Isolation Naturally, all of us have experienced the feeling of loneliness and isolation at one time or another. This in and of itself is not a bad thing. Taking time to retire from the cares and stresses of our busy lives can serve as a much-needed re-boost, allowing us to reengage with our personal and professional affairs with new energy and perspective. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Solitude is naught and society is naught. Alternate them and the good of each is seen.” In other words, balancing our need for alone time with social interaction is key to ensuring a healthy, balanced life. Unfortunately, many of us are experiencing an imbalance in the direction of loneliness and isolation. Whether due, as some believe, to the advent of impersonal technologies in our increasingly digital and online world or other factors, there is a very real epidemic of loneliness in our country today. Negative Effects of Loneliness In a paper from January 2019, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration said that “Loneliness and social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day” along with chronic conditions like obesity. Perhaps even more alarming is the fact that “Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated. "The lack of connection can have life-threatening consequences", said Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad, who testified before the U.S. Senate in April, 2017 "that the problem is structural as well as psychological.” This is a multi-generational problem. Over 43% of American seniors report feeling lonely on a regular basis, with a 45% increase in mortality rate among those seniors reporting loneliness. And, with the likelihood of an upswing of social isolation due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, it is even more important to be aware of the dangers to mental and physical health prolonged loneliness can pose. Necessities to Survive Shocking as it may seem, none of this information should be surprising. We all know that we are social creatures by nature. Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1972) in his well-known Hierarchy of Needs, identified belonging as the most important necessity to our survival after food, water, shelter and our immediate physical safety was taken care of. Relationships, or the belonging component of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs, is also the most difficult imperative that most of us experience as human beings, with its complex and interconnected psychological, neurological, biochemical, and emotional components. Unhealthy Trade-Off Though many of us may be aware on an intellectual level of the negative effects of being in unhealthy relationships, the unconscious, emotional drive for belonging can override our conscious reasoning, leading us to stay in relationships that are not conducive to our well being. Being in relationships that feel bad is unhealthy and not happy – and not being in relationships with others can also feel bad, unhealthy and not happy. This is the reason why many individuals will remain in unhealthy situations even though they do not want to continue in a dysfunctional relationship. Depressed Functioning The negative effects of depression are becoming more apparent through growing research. In numerous studies, loneliness (especially in the elderly) has been shown to have a significant impact on an individual’s health and well-being in addition to their feeling of being valued or loved. Depression is a real problem for those experiencing loneliness. Depression has an immediate impact on an individual’s health and ability to function. According to Healthline, among the most prominent effects of depression, which affects 26% of Americans, are: Insomnia Weight fluctuations Fatigue Increased risk of heart attack Feelings of dependency Weakened immunity Decreased sex drive Ways to Alleviate Loneliness Along with more traditional ways of achieving beneficial social interaction, such as attending church or joining a faith community (which has been shown to positively boost health) and utilizing social technologies like FaceTime and Google Hangout, there are a number of effective strategies to alleviate loneliness. Pet ownership has increased dramatically over the last 10 years in the U.S. Pets can eliminate the sense of being “alone” or lonely and have proven to have healing effects on individuals of all ages and all stages of illness. Even our relationships with plants can help us to feel less alone and caring for them provides a sense of purposeful work and fulfillment, along with helping to naturally boost our mood. Additionally, lifestyle choices such as regular exercise and eating a plant-based, whole food diet can reduce symptoms of depression, which can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. References The Loneliness Epidemic The Effects of Depression in Your Body Harvard Study: Going to Church Boosts Health The Health Benefits and Risks fo Pet Ownership The Perks of Being a Plant Lover Exercise, Depression, and the Brain
  11. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    The Science of Heartbreak

    Thank you all for your comments and contribution. Yes, indeed there is an actual "broken heart" syndrome which explains how grieve translates into our hearts failing us. Isn't nature amazing?! All the best, Georgianna
  12. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    The Science of Heartbreak

    With the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day upon us – evoking romantic love and couples with stars in their eyes - it may be a good time to look at the other end of the spectrum – heartbreak. Having been in nursing and medical practices over 45 years, I have often heard patients share their painful stories of heartbreak and the pain and disappointment from a romantic relationship. They express fear of not being able to trust or love someone again after they have had such an experience. And, for a while at least, view love and trust through somewhat jaded eyes. When we are hurt, betrayed, wounded or deceived, the experience cuts us deeply. Our sense of belonging or joining with another is shattered. Our foundation or moorings are lost, with the impact affecting us physically and emotionally. If we felt we loved the other person, the experience shatters our sense of well-being and stability. We would like to just “put it behind us” and move away from the pain into a safe harbor and a place of comfort that takes away the pain. Recent research can now explain why heartbreak is so painful and why it can be so hard to bounce back from the experience. Helen Fisher, Ph.D., biological anthropologist, is a research professor and member of the Center for Human Evolution Studies in the Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University and chief scientific adviser to the Internet dating site Chemistry.com (a division of Match.com). She has written five books on the evolution and future of human love, sexuality, marriage, gender differences in the brain and how your personality type shapes who you are and who you love. Dr. Fisher has done extensive field research which grants us an excellent understanding of what heartbreak is and how we can mitigate its negative effects. Brain Issues Dr. Fisher’s research on heartbreak demonstrates there are areas of the brain – the caudate nucleus and the ventral tegmental area – whose neurological and physiological involvement in loving is more deep-seated, serving as an actual drive far more powerful and urgent than has been previously believed or demonstrated. Dr. Fisher says that romantic love experiences “are way below the emotional center and in fact are not emotions at all, but rather a powerful drive and need that is shared by all human beings.” Her research team, which has conducted thousands of brain imaging studies both in the U.S. and in China, has confirmed something that is now being increasingly acknowledged: just how important it is for human beings “to be in relationships where they experience reward for their feelings and efforts toward the significant other.” Additional studies have demonstrated that the same portion of the brain, the anterior insula, is the location of experiencing both the physical pain and emotional pain of heartache. In 2010, a study conducted at the University of Kentucky, College of Arts and Sciences, examined the connection and possible overlap between physical pain and emotional pain. Below are excerpts from an earlier blog post I wrote on the subject: If you want to understand more about this fascinating subject visit, Dr. Helen Fisher, where a book list on her research is available.
  13. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    The Kindness Cure

    Hi Jednurse, Yes, it certainly could mean that! And, it might be that people who can express kindness find themselves in better psychological health than those of us we are angry, resentful or bitter as a result of our disappointments and life experience. It's like the chicken and egg discussion. What we do know is that doing acts of kindness, or showing kindness to others in any form, is healing for ourselves and for others. It could be that getting to a place in our emotional life where we choose to express kindness, in spite of what we experience, is the "special sauce" that makes it work. Thanks for sharing! Kind regards, Georgianna
  14. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    The Kindness Cure

    Kindness vs. Incivility With the holidays approaching and another year coming to a close, this time spent with friends and family can serve as an opportunity to reflect on the power of kindness, which is badly needed in our contentious world today. Whether through the mediums of social media or television news as well as in our workplaces, homes, and relationships, we have all experienced the rising tide of incivility which seems to be sweeping over our nation. According to the most current survey numbers, gathered by Weber and Shandwick and Powell Tate in their report titled Civility in America, 84% of Americans polled reported personally experiencing incivility. 69% of those polled cited the Internet and social media as the prime conduits of rudeness, with 25% reporting having been the victim of cyberbullying, compared to 9% in 2011. Additional alarming numbers include the 59% of respondents who said they had disengaged from politics due to rising incivility; the 56% who've experienced road rage; 34% on the receiving end of rudeness in the workplace, and 25% of parents who've had their children transfer schools due to cultures of incivility and bullying. When asked to define civility, the poll participants answered in part: "Being civil - thoughtful, kind, sympathetic, able to get along with others, understanding in thought and word." "Observing the rules of social etiquette, even when one disagrees." "Respect and honor people as you would like to be treated" The Golden Rule This last response, of course, is the essence of the Golden Rule, which sits at the heart of all the world's major religious and ethical systems. It's central tenant of reciprocity, familiar to so many of us that we take it for granted, is as with all wisdom simple in hearing, difficult in application, as these poll numbers demonstrate. Even our own profession of nursing, routinely voted as one of the most trusted of vocations, isn't immune to the virus of incivility, as was addressed in a previous post. How to Alleviate Rudeness What steps can we take to begin alleviating this rudeness epidemic, which is detrimental to individual and collective physical, psychological, and emotional health? In a September 2019 article from The Houston Chronicle, Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz point out that "Accumulating research from around the globe shows how powerfully beneficial kindness, both extended to others and received from others, is to your physical and emotional well-being." In fact, they contend, "[Kindness] may be the missing component in your quest for better health." The Power of Kindness Among the work they cite is a book titled The Rabbit Effect by Dr. Kelli Harding, former emergency room psychiatrist at New York Presbyterian Hospital. It "explores the power of kindness and its importance in achieving health, both individually and as a nation." The book gets its title from the remarkable discovery that rabbits on a high-fat diet, when treated with kindness (cuddled and talked to tenderly) were found to have 60% fewer artery-blocking deposits than rabbits fed the same diet but given similar treatment. Additionally, Dr. Harding's book highlights a Carnegie Mellon study where 400 volunteers were exposed to a cold virus, with those volunteers who received a daily hug being 32% less likely to come down with the cold. Drs. Roizen and Oz also mention the well-known Harvard Study of Adult Development, which found that relationship satisfaction (built on empathy and compassion) among the all-male study group was more determinate of overall health than factors such as cholesterol levels. There are also the results of a University of California study which showed that participants aged 65 and older who volunteered for two or more organizations "had a 44 percent lower likelihood of dying over the time of the study. That means that the kindness of volunteering is nearly as beneficial to your health as quitting smoking!" They write further: Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All When practiced in conjunction with a balanced, whole food diet, regular exercise, and restful sleep, regular acts of kindness can help promote a cultural shift toward "peace on earth and goodwill to all."
  15. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    A Letter to my Hospice Patient

    Hello Meagan, Thank you for this touching article. It is the humanity of nursing that makes it special, isn't it? It was 1963 when I entered nursing and, while the profession has gone through many changes since then, what hasn't changed at the core is that we have the opportunity to learn what true caring is. The reason nurses are the most trusted and loved health care professionals is because of who we become as we serve and learn from our patients. All the best to you in the years ahead. Kind regards, Georgianna
  16. Dr Georgianna Donadio

    Positive Psychology of Gratitude

    Research conducted in the field of positive psychology provides empirical support for the intuitive wisdom of the many spiritual traditions regarding the practice of gratitude. Dr. Martin Seligman, (1) considered the founder of the school of positive psychology, conducted a study in which the effects of positive interventions were measured on 411 participants, along with a control measure of writing about their earliest memories: "When their week's assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month." We hear much in today's self-care cultural about the need to develop an "attitude of gratitude." And, especially around this time of year, many of us are encouraged to reflect on the people and things which we are most grateful for in our lives. But, as with many practices such as "mindfulness" and "holistic health", to name a few, unless it becomes a part of our beliefs and worldview we easily lose sight of the inherent power it can have in our lives. To be able to truly embrace, appreciate and believe in the manifold benefits of gratitude, we must start by exploring its etymological roots. According to the article linked below from Harvard Medical School (1), titled "In Praise of Gratitude", the word is derived from the Latin gratia, denoting grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude, in short, is "a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible." This can include anything from our state of health and our finances to our relationship with our families, as well as our connection to the wider world and universe. It is no surprise, then, that gratitude is a central tenant of many of the world's religions, encouraging people to express thanksgiving for the blessings and good fortune they have received. Even seemingly negative experiences can serve as sources of gratitude, if they have helped spurred us to greater growth, awareness, and understanding. As St. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians: "In all things, give thanks." (5:18) In another study, conducted by Drs. Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough (1), participants were tasked with writing a few sentences per week focusing on specific topics: "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." Gratitude helps organize our time and lives. Gratitude can also pay dividends in the workplace. Supervisors who make it a point to express thanks for their employee's efforts can see an increase in worker productivity. Wharton School researchers found that university employees soliciting alumni donations who received encouraging words of gratitude from their director, "made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not." (2) While studies such as these cannot conclusively demonstrate a cause and effect relationship, they do show an encouraging correlation between adopting practices of gratitude and an increased sense of well-being. What are some ways gratitude can be practiced and cultivated? Show your gratitude to co-workers Sometimes just a simple compliment, or giving recognition for their caring work and how that impacts your day is a great way to not only enhance your colleagues sense of value, but also uplift the work place. It gives you an opportunity to reward an individual who is caring and helping others. Write a thank you note "You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself." Count blessings "Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings - reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number - such as three to five things - that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you." Prayer "People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude."
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