La Jolla Sports Club is grateful for you. Which is so selfish of us 🙂
If you’re like most everyone we know, you love this time of year. It’s cooler here in La Jolla, the days are getting a bit quieter while the year winds down and we take the time to appreciate the people around us. Gratitude is a pretty common theme in the later months, and why shouldn’t it be? January comes on fast with the hopes of our personal successes and the heaviness of the year to come, but November? We’re nice and cozy and in a wistful, reflective mood.
La Jolla Sports Club is the very rare place where our community of members go out of their way to accommodate each other. This is not platitudes on our part, we see it every day, and it’s one of the best things about LJSC. Have you ever really thought about the benefits of that gratitude, though? We brushed on a few in our last post, but today we want to dig a little deeper.
Did you know that gratitude has been shown to cultivate more relationships? Whether it’s letting someone work in on the leg press or holding the door for them into the steam room, showing appreciation for someone else can help win over a new friend. On the flip side, saying thank you when someone does the same for you makes that stranger more inclined to pursue an ongoing dialogue.
But what about when a stranger doesn’t hold the door for you? Grateful people are more inclined to let it slide and behave in a prosocial manner, exercising empathy and sensitivity, as opposed to aggression. (If a Prius is parked in the fast lane, however, let that antisocial sentiment fly)
Gratitude also helps you sleep better at night instead of tossing and turning thinking about how much money Jeanette / Frank is making and how much better her / his home is. Being grateful also helps boost your self-esteem and show appreciation, not resentment, for Jeanette and Frank. As we all know, La Jolla is a very affluent zip code—always chasing someone else’s accomplishments sounds exhausting and time-consuming.
Have you heard of ‘hedonic adaptation?’ Essentially the same as diminishing returns in that the more money we earn, while it’s nice in the beginning, we eventually get used to it and then feel the need to get to the next level—a vicious loop. The opposite, however, is the positive loop created by gratitude. We discussed this last week, but the idea goes that being appreciative opens up your world to become more appreciative. Obviously a boiled down version, but still a cool one to ponder.
Feel the appreciative attitude now oozing out of your pores? That’s helping people trust you and develop meaningful relationships. It also helps that you’re now experiencing less stress and more optimism, so you are the bright corner of the world people gravitate toward.
But, because life is life, we are bound to hit lows. Gratitude has been shown to help people bounce back quicker and from severely debilitating accidents and issues like PTSD. And speaking of dealing with past experiences, gratitude makes our memories happier. Science (!) has found that experiencing gratitude in the moment helps solidify memories, in addition to retroactively brightening a neutral or negative memory!
We’re guessing we have officially won you over with the benefits of gratitude… So now what?
Go see Bram in his Meditation class or check out our meditation-inspired Yoga classes!
Also: Gratitude exercises.
In all transparency, we have cut-n-pasted (see:
stole borrowed) pieces for the entire following section from NJlifehacks.com. If you’re ready to dive in, the link is a great resource for how to accomplish these exercises with even more direction than we’ve included. OK, some of our favorites of their eight recommended:
Classic Gratitude Journaling
- Every week for a total of ten weeks, participants kept a journal, either describing in a single sentence five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week (the gratitude condition), five hassles they were displeased about that had occurred in the past week (the hassles condition), or five random things that had occurred in the past week (the control condition).The results of this first study blew the researchers’ minds. After the ten weeks, participants in the gratitude condition felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic than people in the other groups. According to the scale the researchers used, the gratitude condition participants were a full 25% happier than the others.If you want to try it for yourself, give yourself ten to fifteen minutes and simply write down people, places, objects, memories, or events you’re grateful for. The things you write down can range from the mundane (you got a lot of work done today, your husband cooked for you, or your flowers are finally in bloom) to the magnificent (your book getting published or your child’s first steps).
Contemplate the World Through the Lens of “Gifts”
“All gifts look better when they look like gifts,” wrote British author G. K. Chesterton.
(Gratitude researcher) Emmons certainly agrees, saying that “perceiving a positive experience as a gift may be a form of cognitive amplification that enhances positive feelings. When we amplify, we increase or make more powerful the object of focus. Our positive feelings become amplified when we see their source as a gift we have been given to benefit us.”
“Focus for a moment on benefits or ‘gifts’ that you have received in your life. These gifts could be simple everyday pleasures, people in your life, personal strengths or talents, moments of natural beauty, or gestures of kindness from others. We might not normally think about these things as gifts, but that is how we want you to think about them. Take a moment to really savor or relish these ‘gifts,’ think about their value, and then write them down.”
Contemplate Your Death
Thinking about death, for most of us, is the last thing we want to do.
Oddly enough, it’s only when we keep death in mind that we can be truly grateful for life. Think about it, we could be dead any minute. We could leave life right now, or tomorrow, or a week from now, or a few months from now. Shouldn’t we enjoy life as long as we’re still here? Shouldn’t we be grateful just to be alive?
The ancient Stoics proposed keeping death in mind well over 2,000 years ago. Marcus Aurelius, for example, writes in his Meditations: “You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think … When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love:”
What to Expect
So what should you expect to experience as you practice these exercises? Here are a few things to consider:
- You may not feel much the first few times you practice. That’s natural. Gratitude sort of needs to be awakened for us to fully experience it. The more you practice, the stronger the feelings tend to become.
- You may experience negative emotions (envy, resentment, sadness) during an exercise. That’s also normal, especially in the beginning. Again, we’re built for survival, not happiness. By committing to doing the exercises regularly, you’ll slowly retrain your mind to generate more positive emotions and less negative ones.
- It may feel like a chore at times. That’s the case with most beneficial activities, isn’t it? Whether that’s meditation, exercise, or a gratitude exercise. It’s natural. Just accept it. Don’t make a problem out of it. And don’t feel bad about it.
THANK YOU TO NJLIFEHACKS.COM for the last two sections (see what we did there??)
We’ll see you in December, have a great, safe, GREAT, tasty Thanksgiving!
// Your friends at La Jolla Sports Club