Sending a note of gratitude — Write a note to a friend, a colleague, an employer, a building manager, your barista, or family member. Anyone you feel deserves a ‘thank you’. These are two words we often take for granted! When we are thankful to others, it fills our heart with joy and helps us live in a constant state of gratitude. You can even write a gratitude note to yourself. It’s important to give ourselves grace during these unprecedented times. Just because you’re grateful doesn’t mean the negative emotions you are feeling aren’t valid.
As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.
What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?
One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Rasha Goel.
Rasha Goel is an Emmy nominatedTelevision Host and Producer and International Correspondent. With a bachelor’s degree from UCLA in Communication Studies — Mass Media, she has worked for outlets such as CNN, ESPN, REELZ Channel, HBO Asia, France 24, as well as Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Disney. Rasha’s currently a co-host for Dick Clark Productions Live Red-Carpet Show for the Golden Globes and is hosting Awards Season podcast for Shorts TV. She is also the Host/Producer of Star Talk on TV ASIA — leading the way in providing content that highlights the South Asian American Diaspora.
She has also been an invited speaker at the renowned World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Rasha is a Reiki healer and passionate about inspiring people to living a healthy, positive, and fulfilling life. She enjoys traveling, exploring marine life, and trying new vegetarian cuisines!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?
I am a television host/producer by profession, but my path to becoming a reiki healer is magical. I had received reiki treatments and talked to my practitioner friends about the process, but never imagined becoming a healer myself. One day during my daily meditation practice, I intuitively felt I had the gift to impact others through healing as I do through media. Seemingly overnight, I was compelled to obtain certification and become a reiki healer. I’m inspired to share this beautiful gift with everyone while I am here on this planet.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have had several interesting stories but last year, on the set of a commercial production, there were a few crew members who were deeply disturbed by both the pandemic and the racial tensions that were sweeping cities across the country. As we were having a conversation around everything, I mentioned I was a reiki healer. In a wonderful merging of my media career and spiritual practice, I was approached for suggestions on how to remain calm in the mind and body. The production paused for a few minutes while I taught the crew breathing techniques. I was grateful to have had the training and insight to share and help my colleagues.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
“Two things define us. Our patience when we have nothing and our attitude when we have everything.” — Imam Ali
This quote resonates with me because it keeps me grounded and gives me perspective on life. It reminds me to not take everything so seriously. Everything is temporary — including our human bodies. This quote is a reminder to appreciate what I currently do have in my life.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?
One book that has had an impact on my life and one that I revisit is “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. This book is a beautiful guide on how to navigate life and resonates with me because it taught me how to view challenges from a positive perspective. The book teaches four key principles that can help with personal growth and stress management. I try to implement them as much as possible.
Once, I had the opportunity to audition for a television show, that I had wanted to work on for years. I was prepared and enjoyed the entire process. However, in the end, I wasn’t selected. I was deeply disappointed, but at the same time I recalled two of the book’s principles:
Don’t take anything personally and always do your best. Knowing and understanding this thought process helped me stay out of a “pity party” and move on to the next opportunity. Otherwise, it would have been easy to go down the rabbit hole of negative thoughts.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am grateful to my mother because of her unconditional love and support. She has been my biggest cheerleader. From childhood until now, she has always showed up for everything in my life especially supporting my talent and dreams. There may have been times that she disagreed with my decisions or hoped I would change my career path, but nonetheless she has always been in my corner. The days I have felt discouraged or lost, she was there to uplift me and encourage me to keep going. She is the one person I can trust and be vulnerable with. The successes and failures don’t matter to her, which is priceless! She’s even helped me on some of my productions and brought homemade Indian chai for the crew, in addition to being open to my reiki healings on her.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?
Gratitude is about appreciating life in the present moment. We all have daily challenges, but if we can take a moment to express appreciation for everything that we do have, we can maintain a positive perspective.
For example, someone may not have that dream house they want yet, but they can be grateful for having a roof over their head that keeps them safe. They can be grateful for the ability to be able to take a walk and have fresh food on the table. We often forget the simple things and take them for granted. They are many people across the world that lack the basic necessities in life such as food, water, shelter, along with many other things.
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
We have been programmed to live in a society which relies on external and material gains.
As human beings we are constantly competing, seeking validation, and chasing material wealth and accolades. When those desires don’t come to fruition, we feel that life has been unfair and this causes us to be unhappy, stressed, or filled with anxiety. In this “chase,” we forget about the gift of life, the love that surrounds us, our health, and simply being on this planet. We forget to be present in this moment. I am not suggesting that we forget goals and ambition, but it’s important to acknowledge our blessings.
This might be intuitive to you, but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?
Absolutely! When you are able to express gratitude, you will naturally feel uplifted in your heart. It is difficult to not smile when you think about the things that you are thankful for or when you are thanking someone else. In fact, studies have shown an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.
For example, researchers have found that gratitude can improve relationships. A study of couples showed that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person, but they also felt more comfortable expressing their concerns about the relationship. In work environments, another study showed that managers who said “thank you” to the people who work for them experienced those employees feeling motivated to work harder.
Gratitude transforms your faith with the belief that you’re not alone and whatever you’re going through will pass. You’ll accomplish your goals, overcome your obstacles, and become a person who’s more sympathetic to others.
Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?
Gratitude is an appreciation of what is meaningful to you. Neuroscience research shows that when you express kindness or feel gratitude, the hypothalamus (part of the brain that releases emotional responses) floods the brain with dopamine (“feel good” hormone), serotonin, and oxytocin which lessens the presence of cortisol, the stress hormone. This can also help with depression and anxiety, as well insomnia.
Here are a few examples:
Gratitude can change your life by reducing your fears as it’s difficult to be fearful and grateful at the same time. Fear is what happens when we’re left to dwell on topics that we feel are out of our control. We think of the worst-possible scenarios. However, with gratitude, fear can be overcome. When we’re grateful for everything we have, including our problems, fear has little place to live in our minds. Being fearful puts us into a state of scarcity, such as not having enough money to pay our bills or put food on our table. That leads to living in a state of lack rather than a state of abundance. Being grateful puts you into a state of abundance.
Gratitude can also help with personal self-esteem. When we are grateful for who we are and what we have, we are less likely to compare ourselves to others. Toxic emotions like envy and resentment decrease, and happiness and empathy increase.
Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Studies have found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. When we recognize all that we have to be thankful for, even during the worst times, we build resilience.
And…. grateful people sleep better. The brain isn’t consumed with toxic and debilitating thoughts.
Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Journaling — Write down 3–10 things that you are grateful for. The key is to write it down. Writing it makes it more real rather than abstract concepts living in your mind. If you’re feeling down or going through stressful times, it can be difficult to find things to be thankful for. On those occasions, you could reflect on the past, or note down things that you are hopeful about for the future. Even things like waking up and watching the sunrise are a blessing. Writing in a gratitude journal also improves sleep. Spending just 15 minutes writing down a few grateful sentiments before bed, can help you sleep better and longer.
2. Sending a note of gratitude — Write a note to a friend, a colleague, an employer, a building manager, your barista, or family member. Anyone you feel deserves a ‘thank you’. These are two words we often take for granted! When we are thankful to others, it fills our heart with joy and helps us live in a constant state of gratitude. You can even write a gratitude note to yourself. It’s important to give ourselves grace during these unprecedented times. Just because you’re grateful doesn’t mean the negative emotions you are feeling aren’t valid.
3. Gratefulness Meditations — Listening to guided meditations can help put your mind at ease and distract it from thinking negative thoughts. The meditation helps you focus on appreciating things in life, stirring the mind from endless worries and fears. The “Insight Timer” app is a great resource. It offers meditations from 5 minutes to 60 minutes or longer.
4. Use Essential Oils — I find essential oils help relax my body, ease stress, and relieve pain. One of my favorite oils to use is the Wild Orange by DoTerra. I either diffuse it or put it on my wrists and on the back of my neck. It uplifts mood and energy levels.
5. Make a gratitude collage — Put together pictures of things you are grateful for or create a gratitude kit that you fill with trinkets that remind you of experiences you are grateful for.
6. Reminders in the day — You can also set reminders throughout the day where you take a minute to say one or two things you are grateful for. It could be as easy as being thankful for your healthy lunch, your children, or a place to call home.
7. Stay off social media.
From my research and personal experience, I find that gratitude is a transformational habit that can impact a person’s daily life. It can bring about changes in mindset, health, relationships, and success when one is consistently cultivating a grateful mind and heart.
Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?
Breathing — We often forget the power of our breath! It is important to take a minute and just focus on your breath. You can inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of five, and exhale for a count of four through the nose. I would recommend doing a set of three.
Take a walk — I suggest getting out in nature and appreciating the things you see around you.
It helps to get out of your regular environment and breathe fresh air. It can invigorate the body.
Talk to someone you feel comfortable with — It’s important to know that you are NOT alone during these times. We often feel better when we express our feelings and don’t hold things inside.
Listen to music that makes you happy and brings you joy.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?
I would recommend:
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King
Affirmation Addict Podcast
Thank you for these great insights!