• Peregrine M. Kavros

Pause and consider: Gratitude and Compassion - a winning combination for the New Year



Pause and consider: as we approach 2018 it may be helpful to know that gratitude and compassion chumps willpower when making life changes.

Dr. David DeSteno, Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, reports that when we rely on willpower to manufacture change we may not obtain our desired goals. Such as when we line up all of those New Year's resolutions that we wish to put into place and then find that anywhere from a few days to a few months later they have been cast to the wayside.

We would be more successful in putting our resolutions into place by relying on our social emotions of gratitude and compassion. Gratitude and compassion enhances our ability to value and stay in the moment. Turning a new behavior into a habit can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days. Taking one change at a time, one day at a time, we can compassionately put a new habit into place. My preference for social emotions moves us away from the rational "oughts" and "shoulds" (and other forms of personal condemnations) to a place of acceptance without judgment. When we align ourselves with gratitude and compassion our ability to be patient and persevere (with ourselves and others) is enhanced.

This way of being gently and patiently improves our relationships and reduces feelings of loneliness. In contrast, when we use willpower to promote change it can sometimes feel like a struggle. Dr. DeSteno explains that it actually is a struggle because "your mind is fighting against itself". Importantly, he counters that "while willpower causes stress social emotions heal". When we rely on gratitude and compassion when working with change our heart rate slows, our blood pressure decreases, and our ability to reduce depression and anxiety is enhanced.

Social emotions of gratitude and compassion are essential when we align our hearts with our personal goals of change, as well as our professional outcomes. Dr. DeSteno observes that social emotions cultivate increased levels of what David Brooks refers to as "resume virtues" (virtues of personal and professional integrity) and "eulogy virtues" (allows us to consider all of the various ways in which we wish to be remembered). (See Mr. Brooks article here: https://nyti.ms/2jAfEU2).

As we approach this New Year's Eve let us thankfully and compassionately consider who we have come to be, and the different possibilities that await all of us on this journey of loving transformation. (For Dr. DeSteno's article please click here: https://nyti.ms/2Ea35H5)

#Relationships #Mindfulness #Compassion #Gratitude

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© 2017 by Peregrine M. Kavros, PhD, LP, PLLC. Created with Wix.com

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