Is gratitude all it’s cracked up to be? Yep

As Hyland’s wellness program manager, I have been thinking a lot about gratitude lately.

Everywhere we turn these days, we are being encouraged to express gratitude in one form or another. It will give us perspective, elevate our spirits, and lessen symptoms of depression and isolation.

But is gratitude really all it’s cracked up to be? Does it live up to the hype? Yep.

Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough have done much of the research on gratitude in the past decades. However, the phenomenon of feeling a deep sense of appreciation for something or someone dates back centuries. Ancient philosophers Cicero and Seneca viewed gratitude as a core virtue to a successful civilization. Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism all share writings on gratitude.

Enter 2020 …

Choosing empathy

Still in the middle of stay-at-home orders, the Hyland Employee Engagement team recently decided to utilize the positive aspects of gratitude to help Hylanders navigate a new reality and assist those who have never worked remotely adjust to a more isolated work environment. So we launched what we’re calling a 3-week Gratitude Challenge.

Gratitude + challenge, is that an oxymoron?

In the middle of a worldwide crisis with such a sense of loss for the past and worry over the future, on certain days, it can feel downright impossible to be grateful for anything. So no, it is not an oxymoron.

It actually makes perfect sense.

Within hours of launching our Gratitude Challenge, more than 100 employees registered and immediately started sharing. High up on the list of things people are grateful for include health, extra time with kids, and fur babies who love us so unconditionally.

“This has been a great experience and a helpful reminder to always be grateful and appreciative for our health, family, and, of course, working at Hyland! Every day is another chance to be happy with what we have and find the positive aspects of working from home.”

– Hyland employee

We are also sending notes to colleagues, reaching out to neighbors and local businesses, and sharing quotes that inspire and lift us up. We are grateful to work for an organization that has been clear in its communication throughout this crisis and continues to lead with empathy. And we’re trying to extend that throughout the 30+ communities across the globe where we have offices or remote employees.

Because right now, we have a choice to make when we encounter other people – and the clear choice is empathy.

Choosing a deeper connection

As I scroll through the photographs, notes, quotes, and ways that Hylanders are expressing gratitude, my heart warms. This is the heart’s electromagnetic field at work, signaling the brain that something positive and uplifting is happening. Meanwhile, the brain’s rhythm naturally synchronizes with the heart’s rhythm.

How cool is that? To learn more about this phenomenon and strategies to elicit this response visit HeartMath.

Over the past weeks, I have also conducted webinars for our employees across the globe. From Japan to Singapore, India to Australia, Germany to the U.K., seeing how truly shared this experience is, I am grateful for the conversations. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share some of my not-so-scientific thoughts and feelings; to laugh, cry, and help others around the world.

During the webinars, we are challenging attendees to tune in to what they are feeling, what they need, and then ask the same of their loved ones. These experiences crossing time zones, borders, and all languages have solidified that yes, we really are all in this together.

Feeling grateful

I am grateful to look in the eyes of people across the world (digitally) and feel an even deeper connection, knowing this is changing us in ways that we will not fully understand for years to come. And the more we foster those connections, the better that new world will be.

So, does gratitude live up to all the hype? Does it really affect our well-being, our ability to manage stress, and lead an overall better life?

I could share more science with you. But instead, I challenge you to pause, close your eyes, and name something or someone for which you are grateful.

Do this three times a day and call me in a month.

Ann Marie Hutchins is the wellness program manager at Hyland. She earned a BA in French and Education and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hiram College. Ann Marie is also a Certified Health and Wellness Coach through Wellcoaches School of Coaching as well as a certified dance aerobics instructor. She has worked in the health and fitness industry for more than a decade and has presented on various health related topics for corporations around the globe. She loves all things French—especially the wine and cheese—and has traveled and lived all throughout France. She enjoys reading novels based in France during World War II, loves cooking and walking her two dogs Gracie and Dash, spending time with my husband—at home—and enjoying the beauty of the shores of Lake Erie.
Ann Marie Hutchins

Ann Marie Hutchins

Ann Marie Hutchins is the wellness program manager at Hyland. She earned a BA in French and Education and an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hiram College. Ann Marie is... read more about: Ann Marie Hutchins