The key to a happier new year: Gratitude

Posted On January 3, 2020

Gratitude is important. We have an entire holiday built around it (Thanksgiving isn’t just about turkey, you know). But how many of us actually give thanks on a daily basis?

As we come to the close of another holiday season, Christmas 2019 and New Year’s 2020, we stepped away from the workplace to look at the concept of gratitude on a live holiday episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston.”

Our guests in this episode are Columbia University psychology professor Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, whose book Happier examines the importance of gratitude, and two Mobile residents who have gone through traumatic medical situations and come out of them with an increased sense of gratefulness: Stephanie Anderton and Rob Stuardi.

“Most of our learning comes from hardship and difficulties,” Ben-Shabar says. “Just this fact can help us be more appreciative of not just the ups but also the downs of life, not just the joy but also the sorrow.”

Anderton and Stuardi have lived it. Anderton found out she had breast cancer as a newlywed who was expecting her first child. Stuardi underwent a serious surgery to remove a growth in his pancreas that, had it not been caught early, would have likely developed into pancreatic cancer.

Both feel blessed to be here. And both feel an increased sense of gratitude for even the little things in life.

“It really awoke me with a vengeance,” Stuardi says. “It made me really realize that time is short. I was taking for granted a lot of things. I was a very active person, but maybe didn’t display or show my gratefulness or thankfulness as much as I probably should have. I definitely do that a lot more than I did prior to.”

Anderton and Stuardi discuss the importance of community and faith in dealing with traumatic situations and share how their experiences have affected how they approach parenthood and their jobs — positive byproducts of difficult situations that Ben-Shahar refers to as “post-traumatic growth.”

But you don’t have to go through a traumatic experience to be grateful. Ben-Shahar says practicing gratitude every day is a step toward becoming happier, and one way to do that is with a gratitude journal – writing down, every day, things for which you are appreciative.

“What the research clearly shows,” he says, “is that people who keep a gratitude journal are not only happier and more optimistic, they’re also more likely to achieve their goals, they’re more  generous toward other people and they’re physically healthier.”

Join us as we enter 2020 with an uplifting discussion about gratitude. And have a happier New Year!

Categories: What's Working with Cam Marston