"This type of study helps us understand how to keep nurses in the workforce in a healthy way. Nurses strongly align their profession with their identity and often look out for patients more than themselves. The gratitude matches up with their identity, gives them satisfaction in a job well done and ultimately increases self-care."
The essential strategy for nurses: "Looking for the good in situations and people," explained Grady. "This helps to offset Mother Nature's negativity bias and primes the brain to find more of those good things. Take time to cultivate and communicate gratitude, look for lessons learned in difficult situations, and savor good moments."
How would this look in practice? Medical doctor Leif Hass relayed a gratitude-laden interaction at a hospital in a science-based podcast co-produced by UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center and PRI/PRX. "Often I'll just start when I talk to people by saying, boy, you must be suffering, and you know, instead of going and saying where's your pain on a scale of one to 10, suffering takes on the emotional part of it. And it gets right to what they may be suffering, not because their foot hurts, but because, they may not get home again... if you just acknowledge their suffering and leave some silence. It's really powerful. It's just like in some really super fundamental 'human beings connecting to human beings' way."
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Grady, a self-described "truth bomb dropper" who contributes to Harvard Business Review and is a two-time TEDx speaker, urged nurses to keep building their capacity for gratitude with a "mind over moment" approach. "In each circumstance, ask 'Is the way I am thinking and behaving going to get me the result I want?' If the answer is no, you can change how you are thinking or behaving for a better result."
Cadiz explained further: "The big takeaway: Express gratitude when you see someone doing a good job. A positive feedback loop impacts you and those around you, and can ultimately shape a healthier and happier community."