Emotional Intelligence and Gratitude

Contributor: Linda Roszak Burton, ACC, BBC, BS,
To learn more about Linda, click here.


“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” ~ John Milton

Dealing with the chaos and complexities of the pandemic has revealed behaviors (and cultures) that either expose the best or the worst of humanity. And nowhere more than in healthcare settings has humanity been tested, prodded, poked, and observed.

And, while this current state will eventually turn into a “new normal,” what will continue to be true is the opportunity to be reminded of the good in humanity.

Consider what the data show about the patient experience:

  • 69% of consumers believe a good experience contributes to their healing/good health outcomes.
  • 91% of consumers confirm patient experience is extremely/very important to them overall and is significant to the healthcare decisions they will make.
  • Consumers offer that being listened to, communicated to in a way they can understand, and treated with dignity and respect are the three most important factors influencing their experiences.

Albeit shaken by extreme stress, the novelty of treatment options or lack thereof, and social isolation, there remain evidence-based approaches to support emotional, mental, and psychological experiences that promote good health and healing.

Enter Emotional Intelligence
The pandemic has magnified the importance of whole-being experiences. If ever there was a time to examine and increase your awareness of emotional intelligence, it is now. Emotional intelligence is best described by Daniel Goleman as:

  1. Self-awareness – knowing one's emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and values and recognize their impact on others
  2. Self-regulation – regulating or redirecting one's disruptive emotions and being aware of their impact on others
  3. Social skill – building positive relationships and understanding ourselves and others
  4. Empathy – considering other people's feelings and guiding your interactions based on this understanding
  5. Self-Motivation – finding intrinsic motivation to fulfill goals and find true meaningfulness in life.

There are several ways to measure your emotional intelligence, including self-assessments and 360-degree feedback tools. It is possible to learn and improve your emotional intelligence. And continued practice creates greater benefits, both personally and professionally.

Strengthening Your Emotional Intelligence Through Gratitude
The comparisons between practicing gratitude and strengthening emotional intelligence are just now being fully realized. The benefits couldn't be timelier. Gratitude, once considered a simple emotion, has been linked to neural activity associated with moral cognition, perspective-taking, and fairness. Ongoing research in gratitude shows evidence in building positive relationships and increasing empathy. Indeed, practicing gratitude creates a heightened awareness of your emotions, values, strengths, and a greater understanding of others. Heightening your emotional intelligence through gratitude allows for reflecting on your feelings, emotions and motivators, and perceiving those of others.

Cultivating a grateful mindset also allows you to readily shift from the brain's built-in negativity bias to examining what's going well in your life, what values reinforce your decisions, and which strengths allow you to be at your best as consistently as possible. This self-regulation of recognizing unhealthy emotions and reframing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors will deepen your emotional intelligence capacity. With greater emotional intelligence awareness, you have a choice - a choice in how you interact with and join in the experiences of others.

Further, a sustained practice of gratitude leads to greater health and well-being benefits, including:

  • Improved heart health
  • Increased resilience and less burnout
  • Greater mental well-being
  • Improved overall health and well-being

Side-by-Side Comparison

Emotional Intelligence



Increase awareness of positive emotions, values, and strengths


Reframe default thinking to what's going well, what positive emotions you're experiencing

Social Skill

More prosocial behaviors, less anti-social behaviors


Foster empathy for others, "you get me"


Awareness of purpose in life, improved self-care, and higher use of strengths

Practicing gratitude creates time and space to step back from the constant, 24/7 disruptions and a downward spiral of negative emotions. Try a one or two-minute gratitude “micro-practice” before interacting with others during your day. Reflect on what you are grateful for in yourself and others. Couple this micro-practice with the 4-7-8 breathing technique (breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7, exhale for 8) to help you become fully present.

As current healthcare settings continue to evolve now and post-pandemic, the certainty of having higher emotional intelligence and a sustained practice of gratitude will positively influence your health and well-being and that of your loved ones, those with whom you may work, and those to whom you deliver care.

Contact Linda at:
[email protected]