Episode recap: Gratitude with Chris Schembra

On the first episode of the Joy Superpowers Podcast series, we had the chance to talk about gratitude with Chris Schembra, USA Today’s Gratitude Guru and the Founder of 7:47, an evidence-based gratitude experience for companies that wish to create a sense of connection within their organization. Here are the key messages that Chris shared with us about the power of gratitude.

Why gratitude?

Chris’ journey began in Italy where he was producing a Broadway play. At that time, he was living a life that seemed pretty good from the outside: he ran his own business and had a nice family. However, as someone who had struggled with depression and lived with a harsh life attitude where proving others wrong took centre stage, the joy and gracefulness of the Italians showed Chris a different, better way of living. Once he got back home, Chris began to host dinner parties in which he and his guests shared meaningful life stories about gratitude. Inspired by the positive impact these dinners had, he then began spreading the message on a larger scale.

Having done a lot of research on positive psychology, Chris pointed out an important aspect about gratitude. “There’s only two things that have a lasting impact after a positive psychology micro-intervention: mindfulness and gratitude.” Just like mindfulness allows us to be present, gratitude is our link to the past. Gratitude thus enables us to revive positive memories and most importantly, overcome hard life events.

Another important aspect in gratitude is that it’s a profoundly prosocial phenomenon, linking us to other people. Going back to the early ages of mankind when belonging preconditioned surviving, gratitude helps people to develop a posture of otherness. This is the baseline for Chris’ 90-minute, virtual gratitude experience that he offers to companies through 7:47. During this micro-intervention, the whole company participates in activities which allows the team members to know their shared values and their executives in a peer-to-peer level, which consequently inspires connection and further engagement.

Chris’ tips?

Use gratitude to learn from the past

In the podcast, Chris warned about using gratitude “wrong”. Mindless journaling about the things you feel grateful for isn’t the type of gratitude he promotes: “I don’t care what you’re positively grateful for. I’d rather use gratitude as the link to overcome fear, regret, guilt, shame from a negative autobiographical memory from your past, so that you can learn, overcome adversity and understand that obstacle is the way.”

Thank someone who deserves it

Another tip Chris shared comes down to asking yourself the question that can already be considered his motto. “If you could give thanks to one person to whom you haven’t given enough credit, who would that be?” According to Chris, this question allows you to share meaningful stories with others and thus create a genuine sense of belonging, which is one of the cornerstones of joy. As someone who has practiced mindfulness for several years, Chris revealed in his episode that he felt grateful for the inventor of Ted talks since it was during one that he met the meditation leader Jesse Israel.

Meditate your way to gratitude

Indeed, mindfulness certainly gives reasons to be grateful, especially when it comes in the form of a friendship. One study even states that meditating can promote gratitude as a quality of mindfulness, so that when one’s immersed in the moment, this moment becomes a moment of gratitude. This is also why Chris recommends mindfulness for those seeking to live joyfully.

If you could give thanks to one person to whom you haven’t given enough credit, who would that be?

Share us your story in the comments or in social media with the hashtag #joysuperpowers. In case you missed the episode, you can find it here.

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