( Photo by The Packer staff )

ORLANDO, Fla. — Gratitude makes you rich. 

Just kidding.

It does make you feel richer, however. And studies show practicing gratitude creates happiness, which is correlated with earning 7% more income, said Shannon Cassidy, founder and CEO of Bridge Between Inc., a boutique leadership firm based in Philadelphia.

Cassidy gave a gratitude-themed talk to about 260 women at the Southern Roots luncheon March 8 at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure convention.

“What if I focus more on what is right in the world than what is wrong? What if I focus more on the positives of this industry, rather than the challenges?” Cassidy said.

When people recognize the goodness in their lives, they acknowledge that the source of that goodness at least partially resides outside themselves, according to Harvard Medical School’s Healthbeat report. They end up connecting to something larger than themselves — whether it be other people, nature or a higher power.

While those close to me can attest that I’m no stranger to complaining, I do look for the silver lining in my clouds.

For example, a few days ago, I felt irritable and behind in my work and deadlines, but … I discovered my camel-colored coat I often wear to work does indeed have pockets; I just needed to snip the threads.

Believe it or not, that was a big one resonating with me days later. I mean, a coat without pockets?! Who does that? Thankfully, not my coat now. This may be a small detail, but it really did make my day. I’m still happy about it.

Psychology research shows gratitude is “strongly and consistently” associated with greater happiness, according to the Harvard report. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.”

Everyone in this industry tells me it’s all about building relationships. When fresh produce professionals help me out with a quick response and thoughtful interview, I want to make sure they know how much I appreciate it. 

We need each other to do our jobs better.

Grateful people sleep more soundly, are stronger mentally and have improved self-esteem, according to several studies cited in Psychology Today.

Instead of saying to ourselves, “I’ll be happy/successful when I have/achieve X,” let’s realize that we have everything we need in this very moment. We can start with gratitude and work up from there.  

I’ll go first.

I was grateful to attend that Southern Roots luncheon for women, which happened to be on International Women’s Day. Each guest received Cassidy’s latest book, “Grounded in Gratitude: A 5-Year Journal.”  

I’ve logged two entries so far in my copy.  

“Delicious food” made the list.

Amy Sowder is The Packer’s Northeast editor. E-mail her at asowder@farmjournal.com.

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