Notes and Mentions
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Serena: Hey Everyone, I’m Serena.
Tina: And I’m Tina and we are the Mental Health Mamas.
Serena: Welcome to No Need to Explain, we are so glad you’re here.
Tina: First, as always, a quick disclaimer.
Serena: We come to you NOT as mental health professionals or experts in the field, but rather as the parents of kids who struggle with their emotional health.
Tina: If you or someone you love is experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional support. You’ll find a variety of resources in our show notes and on our website, NoNeedToExplainPodcast.com.
Serena: Today we really want to talk about gratitude.
Tina: Yes, November seems like a great time to do that. First, we want to express our gratitude to all of you who listen out there.
Serena: Yes! We are approaching our 1 year anniversary of starting this podcast and I have to say that when we started we had no idea what the response would be. Honestly, I found the whole idea, I would say, terrifying.
Tina: Terrifying would be a great way to explain it. You know we thought, would people listen? Would they actually be interested in what we had to say? Would we be able to keep up… That was a big one Serena, right; would we be able to keep up with weekly podcasts? Find guests, topics and do everything else that goes into producing a podcast? Which, just so you know, is a lot. Thank you.
Serena: It is a lot. We are so happy and grateful to report that the answer has been yes to all of those questions…and I can even say that we’re having fun!
Tina: Totally having fun! We now have listeners in 31 countries across the globe with more listens every single day. So thank you, sincerely, to each and every one of you who made this a reality for us.
Serena: To help celebrate our one year anniversary we want to gift one of you listeners out there with a Mental Health Mamas prize pack. If you are not already subscribed to our mailing list, doing so will enter you into the drawing. Those of you who have already subscribed to our weekly emails check your email for details on entering.
Tina: AND if you would like to earn extra chances to win, all you have to do is get a friend to subscribe as well. Or 5 or 20! No limit. When they subscribe just make sure they list you as the referral source and you’ll receive an extra entry for every referral. Easy, right?
Serena: Easy. So, speaking of gratitude, let’s talk about the “why” of it all.
Tina: Yeah, so we tend to think a lot more about gratitude during the month of November, at least in the US we do. It’s during this time that we see some people doing daily gratitude challenges on social media yet we know that practicing gratitude year-round is important to all of our well-being. Let’s talk first about what some of the research says about gratitude.
Serena: When we talk about gratitude there are four distinct characteristics that have been identified by Watkins, Woodward, Stone and Kolts. First, grateful individuals do not feel deprived in life. Note that they say do not “feel” deprived. https://positivepsychology.com/gratitude-research/
Tina: The second characteristic is that they appreciate others’ contributions to their well-being. So both recognizing and appreciating how others help and support them.
Serena: Third, they appreciate simple pleasures (pleasurable things that are freely available to the majority of people): if an individual appreciates simple pleasures, they are likely to experience grateful feelings more often due to frequently being appreciative of commonly occurring experiences. So again, not only noticing the little things in life but having a sense of gratitude for those little things that bring you joy.
Tina: Joy. And finally, grateful individuals acknowledge the important role of experiencing and expressing gratitude. There’s intentionality in both noticing and expressing gratitude.
Serena: We want to acknowledge that being able to consistently experience and express gratitude is more challenging for some of us than others. A lot of it has to do with our personal temperament and truly current life circumstances. It tends to be more difficult to express gratitude when you or a family member is struggling but we hope that we can convince you today that the payoff for developing a gratitude practice is totally worth it.
Tina: So Serena, let’s talk about all those amazing benefits of expressing gratitude.
Serena: There are amazing benefits, almost too good to be true. We’re going to talk through some studies. The first one is a study from 2010 which indicates that gratitude may foster resilience in a period of life transition. This particular study focused on first-year college students which is certainly a huge transition point.
Tina: Absolutely. There’s a study from 2009 on one of my favorite topics…guess.
Serena: Mmhm. Sleep.
Tina: Sleep! This study indicated that grateful people were more likely to think positive thoughts rather than negative or worrying thoughts when falling asleep which meant a better night’s sleep!
Serena: That’s amazing! How about this one from 2002? Four separate studies looked at psychological domains and gratitude. The study showed that grateful individuals experience more positive emotions, are more satisfied with life, and experience fewer negative emotions including depression, anxiety and envy. Perhaps not surprisingly, more grateful people also tend to be more pro-socially oriented. They are more likely to be empathic, forgiving, helpful and supportive than those who are less grateful. They are less focused on attaining materialistic goals.
Tina: Wow, that’s a lot! There are so many more we could talk about but we’re just going to mention one more from 2006 which showed that grateful people are more likely to help other people even if they didn’t receive anything in return.
Serena: OK, so that’s better sleep, more resilience, more positive emotions, fewer negative emotions, more empathy, more likely to forgive someone, more helpful to others…anything else?
Tina: Yes! Better pyschological health, stronger immune system, more energy and gratitude may even…wait for it…extend your life.
Serena: And as far as we know there are no negative side effects of practicing gratitude. Are you convinced that practicing gratitude is a good idea?
Tina: Certainly. Yes, yes. Hand up for me.
Serena: Yes. Me too. So, I’m curious, are there specific ways that you personally practice gratitude?
Tina: I do have a gratitude journal (I might have gifted one or two friends one one year for the holidays) and to be honest, it is when I am feeling down that I really key into this practice. I thought, “Just be grateful! What are some things that you feel grateful for?” I tried to think of three each day. Sometimes they were unique things and sometimes they were the same things. And what about you Serena? Do you have a regular practice?
Serena: One of the ways we’ve practiced gratitude as a family is kind of similar to what you were talking about. We have a spiral notebook. We bring it out at dinner. Everyone gets to contribute something, even when my kids were little and unable to write somebody would write for them. Or sometimes they would draw a picture. I have found that we have leaned on this practice, like you mentioned, when things are tough. It seems really helpful to pull that out and be intentional when we were struggling with something. And expressing gratitude for the little things we may not normally talk about, I find that to be really helpful. As a bonus, these notebooks are so fun to look at in the future, especially things from when my kids were real little.
Tina: Yes, those are always fun to look back at and I really do think, Serena, that intentionality is the key. When we actually take the time to express gratitude, even if it’s inside our head, it can really make a difference. Greater Good Science Center (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition#how-cultivate-gratitude) has some really great ideas and suggestions for cultivating a gratitude practice. One of the ideas is to take what they call a Savoring Walk. It’s described as a 20 minute walk outdoors in which you work to notice as many positive things around you as you can. Those could be sights, sounds, smells or other sensations.
Serena: Ooh, I like that one. Another suggestion is to write a gratitude letter to an important person in your life who you perhaps feel you’ve never properly thanked. Bonus points if you can then deliver the letter in person!
Tina: Teaching or modeling gratitude to children can be very powerful as well. It reinforces a practice for ourselves and feels good to share with others and that’s true for a lot of things, right Serena? Exercise, whatever, our kids are watching us all the time.
Serena: Absolutely. We will definitely share the links to all of these great ideas and there’s lots more that they have as well. I want to add here that you don’t need to always write down your gratitude and gratitude doesn’t always have to be in the form of words. Use your creativity to find ways to explore gratitude. Maybe you’re good at drawing or painting or you can take photos of things that you’re grateful for.
Tina: And you could share those photos or drawings on social media…or keep them completely to yourself, whatever works for you! Before we wrap up today’s episode we would like to try something new. We are going to call this the Question of the Week.
Serena: Yes, so I have a book that I purchased recently that’s called 3000 Questions About Me. One of us will pick a number between 1 and 3000 and then we will both respond to the question. We also want to hear your responses and will post the question of the week on social media as well. Are you ready Tina?
Tina: I think so… Go ahead.
Serena: OK, you pick the first number.
Tina: How about…792
Serena: OK, so here’s the question. What is something you hate that you wish you loved instead?
Tina: OK, that’s super easy for me. Exercise!! I totally hate it and I wish I loved it. It always makes my body and brain feel better afterward but I don’t like the process. What about you Serena?
Serena: OK, so I’m gonna say traveling, but it need an explanation. I actually love to go to new places and experience new things but the getting there is a problem for me. I get motion sick. So, cars, boats, planes, trains, hot air balloons, you name it.
Serena: Horses. Yeah. Anything, yes. The getting there…not fun.
Tina: Well that was fun!! Are we going to make a habit of this?
Serena: That’s the plan!
Tina: Alright. Well, let's try it. So if you have a question for us…email us and we will do our best to answer. Or we will pick from the giant book of questions.
Serena: So as we start to bring this episode to a close we know that for us in the US we will celebrate Thanksgiving in a few weeks and it is generally a time when folks stop and are grateful in a very intentional way.
Tina: Kind of like in January when people are intentional about setting New Year's resolutions? But let’s try to think about gratitude in a sustainable way. How can we make this a practice that sticks? I know that I would love all of the health benefits that come from this practice!
Serena: Me too!
Tina: And after a bit of a hiatus, I plan to get back to my little pink grateful journal.
Serena: And I think I will add a daily photo of something I’m grateful for to my gratitude practice. We hope that everybody listening out there will try something and tell us about it.
Tina: Yeah, for sure. And that’s a great idea, Serena. That’s an excellent idea. I’ll be watching out for it on your social media.
Tina: And so podcast friends, we are, as always, grateful for all of you listening and supporting us. (And there is my grateful for the day!! That was easy!) You can help us out by visiting Apple podcasts, leaving us a review, subscribing and please share with others. You will find more content on our website, NoNeedtoExplainPodcast.com. You will also find an email address and we would love to hear from you by email.
Serena: And this is your gentle reminder to take good care of yourself while you are also taking care of your people.
Tina: Thanks again for listening!