Hendry Ton, M.D., M.S.
Faculty Development and Diversity
Every day I perform a simple, silent exercise that calms my soul, refreshes my mind and rejuvenates my spirit. It can be done anywhere, unobtrusively — while at my desk, or locking up my office, or walking to the parking lot at the end of the day.
I perform what I call my gratitude exercise. I take stock of the positive things I’ve been able to do that day, or the accomplishments of my colleagues or staff members. That reflection has a meditative value. Even for people who think meditation is not for them, simply taking stock and allowing themselves to feel gratitude can be restorative. Doing so doesn’t in any way diminish my problems or distract me from my goals. It helps me take stock of things for which I have to be grateful, and reminds me about resources at my disposal. Studies have shown correspondingly that outward expressions of gratitude have significant psychological benefits. I often take opportunities to tell a staff member or colleague how grateful I am about an aspect of work they’ve done. From a psychological standpoint, expressing gratitude for a job well done is a powerful motivator that reinforces your team’s positive activities.
Expression of gratitude should be part of the career satisfaction and morale-building tool chest of every faculty member.
This is a work-life hack that is simple to do but can yield big gains in terms of wellness, satisfaction and work relationships. I see a significant relationship between gratitude and job burnout prevention. The sense that we’re making a positive impact is critical to work satisfaction. Thanking someone for a job they’ve done well not only provides immediate benefits, but is also important feedback that they can use to set their efforts on a productive and fulfilling course. That can be considerably helpful in combating burnout.