As a leadership consultant and coach I think it critical that I ensure all of my suggestions are rooted in science and extremely practical.
The practice of gratitude is no different.
At last count there were at least 26 independent studies that proved that regular practice of gratitude improves physical and mental health, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and raises overall levels of happiness. For more information on the 26 studies check out THIS link.
But just a couple of weeks ago my gratitude practice came in very handy for me in a very practical way when I had to go for a very short notice colonoscopy.
The need for a quick turnaround colonoscopy came about when, in preparation for a routine physical with my doctor, it came to light that a couple of polyps that had been removed seven years earlier were dangerous. In other words they were not cancerous, but they were the kind of polyp that often did turn to cancer.
Back in 2010 I was told that I should wait five years for my colonoscopy. In reality I should have only waited two. As a result both my family doctor and the wonderful folks at the cancer screening clinic expressed significant concern about the potential challenge posed by the time gap between colonoscopies.
My interpretation of their concern was that I had a significant risk of colon cancer. Maybe this was an overly emotional reaction on my part, but well founded. My mom died from cancer when she was 57 and my brother is waging his own battle with colon cancer right now.
During the days leading up to the colonoscopy I was nervous and spent time mentally preparing for what I expected could be bad news. I didn’t feel that scared, but I did ramp up for a major battle.
The morning of my colonoscopy came and I felt hard, tough and resolute. Whatever came my way I was going to face it as bravely as I could.
Once I got checked into the clinic and got prepped for the procedure I closed my eyes and began to go through my stress releasing protocol.
I began to breathe slowly and deeply. Breathing in slowly to a count of five, holding for a few seconds, breathng out to count of five finally holding a full exhale for a few seconds before I started the whole process again. After a few cycles I shifted my attention from my breathing toward gratitude.
Once I focussed on gratitude the true reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks.
I realized that I was surrounded by a whole team of people who were dedicated to my health and wellbeing. All around me were healers who, even though they didn’t know me, were committed to making sure that I was healthy, safe and comfortable.
Once my focus shifted from fear to gratitude the tension left my body. At that moment I knew that whatever happened, I would be ok.
After I relaxed I was able to effectively engage with staff and even joked with the doctor who did the procedure.
Fortunately, despite the fact I went too long between screenings, the scope only showed one small polyp which the doctor expertly removed during the process.
But the cool thing was that it only too one small gratitude practice to transform my experience from one of fear to appreciation.
What about you? Are you able to find circumstances where you can exchange fear, anger or anxiety for gratitude and appreciation?
The decision to practice gratitude may be one of the most important changes you ever make in your life.
Thanks for reading Success on the Far side of Fifty.