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Penn Postdocs in the News: Christa Mahlobo, Penn Provost Postdoctoral Fellow, discusses the Power of Mindfulness in a recent The Beautiful Societies UK, editorial

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Christa Mahlobo, Penn Provost Postdoctoral Fellow, discusses the Power of Mindfulness in a recent Beautiful Societies UK, editorial.

The Beautiful Societies UK, February 21, 2023
Christa Mahlobo, Ph.D., a distinguished Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Penn’s Human Flourishing Lab, recently shared her expertise on the transformative power of gratitude during an interview. Delving into the complexities of gratitude as a wellness tool, Dr. Mahlobo illuminated its profound impact on mental and emotional well-being.

Reflecting on the origins of gratitude in childhood teachings, Dr. Mahlobo highlighted its significance in fostering positive life changes and enhancing relationships. She emphasized its importance, citing even Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of gratitude as her “most cherished spiritual practice.”

Dr. Mahlobo further addressed the nuanced relationship between gratitude and minority communities, underscoring its potential as a coping mechanism amid systemic inequities. However, she cautioned against the misuse of gratitude to silence individuals, particularly in contexts of institutional wrongdoing.

Dr. Mahlobo shared, “I don’t think that there are downsides to an individual turning to gratitude when facing inequity. However, if for example, corporations or workplaces that have unfair practices are asking their workers to turn to gratitude instead of addressing institutional wrongdoing, I do find that incredibly problematic.

Offering practical insights, Dr. Mahlobo outlined various gratitude exercises, including gratitude journaling and savoring walks, as effective means to incorporate gratitude into daily routines. She emphasized the lasting benefits of gratitude on mental and physical health, citing scientific studies that demonstrate its ability to evoke positive emotions, lower stress levels, and improve sleep quality.

In navigating the complexities of gratitude, Dr. Mahlobo emphasized the importance of conscious language and context, ensuring that gratitude serves as an empowering tool for all individuals. Quoting Toi Derricotte, a Black feminist writer, she affirmed that “Joy is an act of resistance,” highlighting gratitude as a tangible means for marginalized communities to cultivate inner peace and resilience amidst adversity.

Dr. Mahlobo’s insights underscore the transformative potential of gratitude in fostering holistic well-being and empowerment, offering a beacon of hope and resilience in challenging times.