David J. Pollay, MAPP '06, is a co-founder of the International Positive Psychology Association (IPPA). David has an Economics degree from Yale University and has held leadership positions at Yahoo!, MasterCard, Global Payments and AIESEC. He is an Executive Coach who specializes in business relationships. He is also an author and keynote speaker known for his best-selling books, The Law of the Garbage Truck (how to navigate negativity) and The 3 Promises (how to create personal fulfillment every day). David's articles are here. For permission to reprint David's articles, please contact him.
I wrote in a number of my columns last year that when you increase your gratitude in life, you become happier and more successful. And I shared with you that one way to amplify your gratitude is to build what I call Gratitude Chains™.
You cultivate three things in the process of building a Gratitude Chain™:
- Awareness of what and for whom you are grateful
- Curiosity about what they do that makes you feel grateful, or what makes something you value possible
- Memory of what is good about these individuals or things by engaging in gratitude practices
When you link together your Gratitude Chains™, you experience a powerful appreciation of the important people and things in your life.
Research continues to demonstrate the positive impact gratitude has in our lives. In her book, The How of Happiness, Positive Psychology researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, wrote: “Grateful thinking promotes the savoring of positive life experiences. By relishing and taking pleasure in some of the gifts of your life, you will be able to extract the maximum possible satisfaction and enjoyment from your current circumstances.”
So, let’s look at a Gratitude Chain™ applied to your personal life. You can start with your spouse, a friend, or your boyfriend, or girlfriend. If you do not fully appreciate what they do and how they do it every day, step into their world. Here’s an example of a Gratitude Chain™ I created about my wife Dawn.
Step 1: Cultivate Awareness
Dawn drives our daughters, Eliana (6) and Ariela (5), thirty-forty minutes each way to school, twice a day, Monday through Friday. My girls receive the education that we want for them because Dawn makes the drive every day. I did not truly experience gratitude for what she does until I made the trip a number of times myself. I became aware.
I also did not fully understand the demands of a mother’s role until I spent entire days, morning until bedtime, with the girls. My gratitude increased when I realized how much love, patience, and stamina Dawn shows every day. In fact, I have an appreciation for all moms. I became aware.
Step 2: Cultivate Curiosity
I asked Dawn how she manages to bathe, feed, brush hair, put on sunscreen, make lunches, and fill backpacks for the girls so quickly. I wanted to know her secret (because, truthfully, it takes me twice as long to do the same things). I asked about her system for accomplishing everything. I learned the steps, but more importantly, I learned how much love, care and thought Dawn puts into each day with the girls. I was curious.
Step 3: Cultivate Memory
Every morning when I wake up, I start my day by reciting everything I am grateful for, and Dawn is at the top of my list. My morning gratitude ritual helps me keep fresh in my mind all that Dawn does for our family each day.
And I look for opportunities to recognize Dawn, big and small. One of my practices is to write her a note each day. My notes congratulate or thank her. And they always say that I love her. I commit my gratitude to memory by practicing gratitude everyday. I remember.
Link Your Gratitude Chains Together
Gratitude Chains™ help to embed in your subconscious positive thoughts and feelings about who and what you care about; they keep your mind focused on recognizing everyone and everything important to you. And the more Gratitude Chains™ you have, the more you have the opportunity to influence your own happiness.
Lyubomirsky wrote: “When you realize how much people have done for you or how much you have accomplished, you feel more confident and efficacious.”
Could you imagine if you created a Gratitude Chain™ every week? You would have at least fifty-two people or things in your life that would make you feel grateful.
Awareness, curiosity, and memory are the links in your Gratitude Chain™.
Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., author of The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin Books.