UM President Seth Bodnar’s July gratitude challenge on Limeade concluded this week, and we hope you had a chance to participate! The challenge was to make a list of a few things you are grateful for, at least 4 times per week. Research on gratitude interventions have linked expressing gratitude to increased happiness and decreased depression.

Many common themes emerged from the comments that were posted within the challenge. They included thankfulness for family (especially grandbabies), good health, nature (especially sunrises and sunsets), fulfilling work, gardens, sunshine (and rain), and one of Neal’s favorites—hot coffee.

If you enjoyed that challenge, or already have a habit of practicing gratitude, here’s a way to take it a step further. If there are certain individuals that made your list—maybe your spouse, best friend, work mentor, favorite grocery store clerk, neighbor, etc.—take the time to actually express that gratitude directly to them.

We (Neal and Cristin) recently attended a conference where we had the incredible opportunity to listen to Shabnam Mogharabi, CEO and Executive Producer at SoulPancake, speak about the power of joy. In her talk, Shabnam stressed the importance of exactly this; of not just identifying things you are grateful for each day, but actually telling people who make the list how thankful you are for them. 

Studies have shown that expressing gratitude on a consistent basis rewires our brain for happiness. And, the people whose level of happiness was increased the most by expressing gratitude were those who were unhappiest to begin with! Pretty incredible, right?

So the next time you are having a bad day, pick up your phone and actually call someone who is influential in your life to tell them about the impact they’ve had on you. Your day will get an instant boost of positivity (and so will theirs!). To see a touching video that SoulPancake created on this topic, check out An Experiment in Gratitude – The Science of Happiness. We promise it will be 7 minutes well spent!

To close with a little gratitude ourselves, we are so thankful to get to work with all the wonderful MUS employees across The Last Best Place. Thanks MUS!

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