It was August and I was listening to my 99 year old friend Victor Tynes sing “What A Wonderful World.” I sat in awe as his smooth tenor voice sang every word with conviction and heart. One year shy of 100 and he sounded like a professional performing in a jazz club. Early in Victor’s life he performed with Louis Armstrong, and afterwards, he had a successful career as a dentist. By the me he was 99, he was a beloved father, grandfather, and had a long list of close friends. Victor had a contagious sense of optimism and superb physical health. At that time,. he was still driving, singing in the choir, and leading a book group. I asked him once what has kept him so vibrant and happy. He smiled and said, “Gratitude.”
Positive psychologist and Harvard Professor Shawn Anchor says: “The power of gratitude is not only one of the fastest ways to raise the level of happiness, it literally transforms your health.” It also plays a role in your success. People, however, don’t always understand this. Many people believe that success precedes happiness, but it is the other way around. When the brain is in a positive state, intelligence, creativity, performance, and energy increases, while stress decreases.
Anchor says, “You have to train your brain to be positive just like you work out your body.” He challenges people to the “21 Day Challenge”, which includes: writing down three things you are grateful for each day, journaling about one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours, exercising for 10 minutes, meditating for 2 minutes, and sending one email each day thanking someone in your life.
Of these five positivity habits, the most powerful is gratitude. It is also a highly profitable concept. A recent Gallup study reveals companies that companies that foster recognition and praise outperform their competition in several key business metrics.
As a speaker and executive coach, I remind my clients of the benefits of expressing gratitude, even with a simple “thank you.” It inspires others, and aids in your own success.
There will always be forces that tug toward the negative road, like exams, being overly committed and stressed, and miscommunication between friends, but focusing on them is not the path to success. It begins with seeing the good in life. Today, I am grateful for the clear winter nights, a creative idea at work, a meaningful conversation with a friend, and the privilege of knowing Victor Tynes.
What are you grateful for? How will this focus change your outlook today?
Credit // Author: Elaine Penn