Attitudes of Gratitude: Innovative Strategies in Improving Health and Wellness

Monday, 9 November 2015: 10:20 AM

Sharon M. Weinstein, MS, RN, CRNI, FACW, FAAN
SMW Group LLC, Global Education Development Institute and the University of Illinois, Buffalo Grove, IL, USA

Your attitude plays a large role in determining whether you can feel grateful in spite of life’s challenges. According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the-fact to have been caused by the kindness of others.  Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier; it is happiness in and of itself!  According to Emmons, gratitude is defined by your attitude towards both the outside world and yourself. He suggests that those who are more aware of the positives in their lives tend to focus their attention outside of themselves.  One of the most significant changes in today’s healthcare system involves the workforce, where career opportunities abound and work roles are evolving.  The ability to fully engage a current and growing workforce across systems is a challenge at all levels of the organization.  Building a culture of gratitude in the workplace is not easy, but research tells us that an attitude of gratitude is a good health choice as well as a good management choice.  Gratitude may actually be the key to happiness and can contribute to a healthier mind, body, and spirit.   Gratitude is a nutrient for one’s health, and it contributes to a happier, healthier work environment.  The benefits of gratitude go beyond a sense of self-worth, self-efficacy, and trust between employees. By practicing gratitude, we are celebrating what brings us joy, directs our actions, and influences our outcomes.  One of the many benefits to expressing gratitude consistently and freely is that it fosters an environment where people experience a greater sense of purpose. It is a innovative, visible demonstration of how we can all make a difference and the benefits are far-reaching. Practicing gratitude can increase work satisfaction and happiness in general, strengthen the immune system, lower blood pressure, relax the body, increase energy levels, facilitate healthy sleep, foster better interpersonal relationships and become an integral part of an employee health and wellness program. The simple act of acknowledging things to be grateful for can influence our thoughts, action and mood.  As an organization, the ability to foster an attitude of gratitude across the system can have a significant impact on the work environment.  The presenter will share the evidence base related to attitudes of gratitude and health outcomes.  She will address innovations related to mindfulness, engagement, journaling and positivity through a gratitude exercise.