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A Guide to Finding Gratitude for Physicians and Practice Staff


In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, here's how to breathe new life into your medical practice by embracing gratitude.

In honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday, I would like to share with you something a little different than my normal posts on how to, for lack of a better phrase, breathe new life into your medical practice. I do think that this is relevant, because once you get this right it all falls into place.

Many people look at my title, the initials behind my name and what I do for a living, and are flat-out shocked at what I teach my clients about gratitude. When I was introduced to being intentional with my gratitude, I thought of it and used as an attitude, as something you project. 

A while later, I had an "aha" moment, when I learned that gratitude is not just about the attitude you have, but it is something tangible, it is a practice and a state of being. Did you just have an "aha" moment too? Gratitude is made tangible because it is a daily practice, and when you practice gratitude, a transformation takes place, and suddenly you go through your day looking for the ordinary things that you are grateful for.

Researcher Brene Brown, Ph.D., says "It is not joy that makes us grateful, but gratitude that makes us joyful." Practicing gratitude and being in the state of gratitude means that every "problem" you encounter is not a problem, but an opportunity to learn and grow.

So how do you begin?

• Start with yourself. Grab a journal or a piece of paper, at the end of each day spend a few minutes reflecting and write down three to five things you were thankful for that day. It could be anything big or small. In a few weeks or days you will be expanding to 10 or more reasons each day you were grateful.

 Be thankful out loud. Say "thank you" out loud even when no one is physically around to hear it. For example, every time I find a penny or a dollar on the ground, get a perfect parking spot, or find an opening in traffic, I give a smile and say "thank you" out loud (it actually happens quite often). 

• Spread the love to your family. Once you have your gratitude practice fit in, you can spread the love to your kiddos and loved ones. My 5-year-old daughter has a gratitude journal, and when she goes to bed she thinks of three to five things she is grateful each day. Sometimes they are silly sounding but it is an important start. Also get your spouse or partner involved - some days we talk at the dinner table about what we are thankful for, and it is an amazing change from complaining about a day of work or school.

• Spread the love to your workplace. After you have the gratitude thing rolling pretty well in your personal life, spread the love to your workplace. Encourage your coworkers or staff to start a personal gratitude practice, and after three weeks of steady gratitude work, add a community-gratitude list to the wall in your break room (you could use a dry-erase board, or a simple sheet of paper). Tip: If someone writes something negative, be thankful for the learning experience and turn their negative statement into a positive or solution-seeking question.

There are so many rewards to being in a state of gratitude and having a daily gratitude practice. The big one is joy - joy in your heart, in your home, in the eyes of your family, and at work. You will see increased productivity, improved behavior, and a more creative outlook;  the results are really limitless and abundant.

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