Why you should extend a little gratitude — to yourself

Plus, an interactive tool for less awkward dinner conversations.

“Some people are breaking rules just for the sake of breaking rules. Rebels, instead, are being constructive in their approach in a way that creates positive change.”  — Francesca Gino

BRAIN WAVES

  • The benefits of self-gratitude. When researcher Erin Westgate returned to her office for the first time after lockdown, she opened her desk drawer to find a pleasant surprise: a Reese’s peanut butter cup. “She texted me like, ‘Oh my gosh, my past self left my future self a Reese's,’” recalled her colleague Matt Baldwin. “I was like, ‘Wait a second. You're expressing gratitude towards something your past self had done. We have to study this.’” Baldwin and his colleague Samantha Zaw asked people to write letters of gratitude. One group was asked to thank someone else, while another group thanked themselves. A third control group simply wrote about a positive experience. After the exercise, the people who wrote letters of gratitude to themselves had an increase in feelings of clarity, authenticity and connectedness. “Being appreciative of ourselves carries an added benefit of truly understanding who we are and feeling connected to ourselves,” said Zaw. As you spend time this week giving thanks, don’t forget to extend that kindness to yourself.

  • Dreading awkward conversations at your Thanksgiving feast? You’re not alone. “A challenge of our time is that conversations in small groups are harder now than they were just ten years ago,” says Jonathan Haidt, Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University. “Honest conversation is more needed now than ever.” Haidt is also the co-founder of OpenMind, a non-profit organization that helps people bridge divides using psychology-based tools. They recently launched a Thanksgiving Conversation Simulator to prepare for the upcoming holiday. You first enter the name of a person you tend to disagree with on a particular topic. The tool prompts you with sticky conversations you might have with that person, then helps you navigate those dialogues. “We created this simulator to give people practice, confidence, and a bit of fun as they approach the holiday season,” Haidt says. Give it a try here.

  • We think of gratitude as something we will feel when we’re happy. But maybe it’s the other way around. Embracing gratitude as a regular practice can actually make us happier. Listen to learn more.

ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST

Nov 22: Francesca Gino studies rebels — people who practice “positive deviance” and achieve incredible feats of imagination. They know how, and when, to break the rules that should be broken. So how can you activate your own inner non-conformist? In this week’s Work 2.0 episode, we revisit our 2018 conversation with Gino.

Nov 29: If you’re one of the 40 percent of Americans now working from home, you might be reveling in your daily commute to the dining room table. Or you might be saying, “Get me out of here.” Economist Nicholas Bloom joins us from his spare bedroom to ponder whether working from home is actually working. 

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ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST

Nov 25: In 2018, Vanessa Grace Miller was traveling in Myanmar with her sisters when she had a severe allergic reaction. A quick-thinking tour guide came to the rescue.

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MIND GAMES

Two mothers and two daughters went out to eat. Everyone ate one slice of pizza, yet only three slices were eaten, total. How is this possible?

LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE

What 4-letter word can be written forward, backward or upside down, and can still be read from left to right?

The answer: NOON

FROM THE TWITTERATI…

A MOMENT OF JOY

Speaking of peanut butter...


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