The Power of Gratitude: Discovering the Research-Backed Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Episode #1106: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, the "Science of Gratitude" is explored by Severin Sorensen, an Executive Coach and the Host and Curator of Arete Coach Podcast. The principle of "a grateful heart doeth good like a medicine" is explored, along with the definition of gratitude, the latest research findings on the advantages of gratitude, and techniques for fostering a grateful outlook in daily life. Take a look below or listen to this impactful episode to learn about the benefits of gratitude and how to cultivate a grateful mindset.
About Severin Sorensen
Severin Sorensen is a serial entrepreneur and lifetime learner with a passionate curiosity for people and businesses. Severin is the CEO of ePraxis LLC, a premier level retained search firm that provides executive headhunting, talent selection, and executive coaching. In addition to finding top talent, Severin has provided over 8,000+ hours of paid executive coaching to entrepreneurs, CEOs, Presidents, and C-level executives. Severin is an ICF ACSTH Certified Executive Coach, Certified Organizational Development Coach, Certified Life Coach, and Certified Positive Intelligence® Coach. Severin is the founder/producer of a new podcast, Arete Coach, that explores the art and science of executive coaching with some of the industry's best coaches.
From 2010-2018 Severin was also a Vistage Chair where he coached three CEO and key executive groups. In 2011, Severin received the "Rookie of the Year Chair Award" from Vistage. Since 2013, Severin has added international speaking for Vistage, CEO conferences, executive peer groups, and corporations on the topic of identifying and hiring difference-making top talent.
After graduate school, Severin moved to Washington, DC, where he worked on security-related economic and public policy issues that included a brief stint in The White House, as a Special Assistant to the President, for George H. Bush (POTUS 41). In 1994, Severin founded Sparta Consulting Corp., and Sparta provided world-class physical security and safety related management consulting services for public and private sector entities. From 1994-2002, Severin managed HUD's Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design technical assistance and training program. In 2005, Severin sold Sparta to Westec Interactive (Digital Witness), which was subsequently acquired by Interface Security.
Severin, a native Californian, grew up in Salt Lake City, UT and graduated with honors from the University of Utah with Economics and Political Science degrees. He completed graduate studies in economics at King's College, Cambridge University (England), where he earned a M.Phil. degree in Economics. Severin has a great love and appreciation for sports, and while overseas, Severin rowed for the King's College Boat Club, and played basketball for the Cambridge University Basketball Team (1986-87).
Gratitude has a multitude of definitions, with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley emphasizing its universality across cultures, religions, and traditions in their publication titled "The Science of Gratitude." Cicero regards gratitude as the foremost virtue and the source of all other virtues, as outlined by Severin who examines various definitions of gratitude from philosophers such as Zig Ziglar, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Aesop. However, researchers have noted that gratitude cannot be easily categorized and there are a plethora of definitions for this quality.
UC Berkeley identifies three levels of gratitude: affective, which relates to the inclination to exhibit gratitude or possess a grateful disposition; mood, which involves an emotional inclination towards gratitude that may last for hours, days or even weeks; and emotion, which is a short-term reaction to specific events. Severin further explains that gratitude is a two-step process that involves recognizing goodness and acknowledging its source outside of oneself.
Research on gratitude
During this segment of the podcast, Severin delves into various research articles and studies that highlight the numerous advantages of gratitude. According to research, the benefits of gratitude encompass both mental and physical health. Among the benefits are a strengthened connection with the local community, enhanced interpersonal relationships, increased likability among peers, elevated happiness levels, and improved overall mental well-being. Additionally, gratitude can lead to a reduction in stress-related illnesses, improved blood pressure, heightened helpfulness towards others, improved physical health, and reduced fatigue, among other benefits.
Strategies for increasing gratitude
Much like the diverse meanings and advantages of gratitude, research suggests that there are multiple ways to cultivate gratitude. These approaches include maintaining a gratitude journal, expressing appreciation with others, developing a habit of savoring, writing about what one is thankful for, utilizing gratitude journal prompts, taking a gratitude walk, engaging in gratitude conversations, and practicing mindfulness. Severin examines each of these strategies and the corresponding research to support their effectiveness.
Gratitude as a habit
Studies indicate that with regular practice of gratitude, our brains undergo changes that boost our ability to recognize and express appreciation. Taking this into consideration, Severin suggests tracking one's frequency of experiencing gratitude, chronicling it in a gratitude journal, and establishing weekly targets for the number of gratitude exchanges one wishes to engage in. This approach can enhance the cultivation of gratitude in one's life.
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