Deborah Norville Explores The Power of Gratitude in her Latest Book

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As a 40 year broadcast veteran, Deborah Norville has certainly seen 
her share of life’s up and downs. Despite the loss of her mother at 
age 20, the very publicized dismissal from the “Today Show” in the 
mid 90’s and subsequent bouts of depression, Norville—has emerged 
stronger and the wiser for it. In “Thank You Power” her latest read—
she draws compelling connections, between living life from a place 
of gratitude and being healthier, happier and more productive. (We 
somehow have an inkling, she practices what she preaches!)
Link2us: What inspired you to write, Thank you power?

Norville: I was inspired really, by a hunch. I had seen in my own life that 
things just seemed to go better when I focused on what was going right—
instead of the inevitable things that go wrong. Professionally, as a journalist, 
and personally, I am just naturally skeptical. ‘Prove it’… And ‘how come’ are 
words that seem to always be on the tip of my tongue and I think it was my 
natural curiosity that first got me going on the research path. I had no idea 
the research would take me into such interesting territory. Beyond that; I am a naturally grateful person. Radio DJs tell me I am the 
only celebrity who sends thank you notes after an interview—now they get 
emails! But it’s really more than that… It is living in a ‘zone of thankfulness.’ My mother had numerous health problems through most of my childhood, 
so I was always especially appreciative of her good days. I am hugely 
grate- ful for my own good health… For a marriage that’s still working—and 
while I’ve had plenty of setbacks, public and personal, focusing on all I 
had seemed to make the hurt of the losses lessen.

Link2us: What facts were you most surprised to find in your 
2 year research?

Norville: We have all heard it said, if you see it, you can be it. Well, 
that never worked for me! I try to see myself 25 pounds thinner and it just 
doesn’t happen! So I had a high degree of skepticism going into this. What 
attracts me to the research results is that it is done under the most rigorous 
of conditions, with the kinds of screens that keep the results from being 
tainted. People didn’t know what kind of research they were part of—so 
the findings are pure.

People who regularly practiced what I call ‘Thank You Power,’ were more opti- mistic, less pessimistic, more apt to do things for other people, they 
exercised more than others…. And that’s just for starters. Those findings 
were enough to encourage me to delve deeper and see what else Thank 
You Power could do. 

My standards were pretty tough: the findings had to be measurable and 
quantifiable. “I feel…”Or”it seems…” didn’t cut it for me. There had to be 
measurable benefits from the study for me to include the information. 
After all… This is a REPORTER’S approach—the FACTS had to be 
beyond reproach!

Lingk2us: Could you share with us, some hands on ways in which the average 
person could begin to implement the practice of gratitude —is there a formula?

Norville: At the end of the day do a “gratitude check.” Jot down three things that 
hap- pened for which you are grateful in a little notebook. Doing this forces you to 
focus on what went right that day and redirects your mind toward something positive. 
It’s magic- ally simple. Thank You Power can be ignited by the regular practice of 
finding something in your day that was meaningful and beneficial to you. Maybe it 
was an e-mail from a long-lost friend, or the magic of all the traffic lights going green 
when you were late get- ting to work. They’re not necessarily headline-making events. 
In fact, experts in this field say it’s usually the more banal moments that, on reflection, 
are the most meaningful in our lives. I actually have a Thank You list—pretty much
everyday I jot down three or four things that I am grateful for in a little fabric covered
notebook. Focusing on these moments is an incredibly effective way to put yourself 
in “positive affect,” which is the scientific term for feeling good—seeing the glass as 
half full instead of half empty.

Link2us: In what ways can the practice of gratitude impact each of us physically 
and emotionally?

Norville: It starts with you, every day- it doesn’t have to be the same time everyday, 
but on a regular basis-literally writing down what was good in your life that day. There’s something very affirmative about that. When you see all these affirmations in totality, 
there’s a kind of elevation that happens. Scientists have actually proved this—there’s 
a hormonal change that goes on. Oxytocin starts going through the body, and you really 
do have this sort of elevated sense. Beyond that, as I point out in Thank You Power, 
when the mind is focused in a particular positive way, one can actually reduce the 
physical effects of stress. In one study, participants were literally able to lower their 
blood pressure and re- duce their heart rate. Another study I cite shows how referring 
back to those ‘supremely happy moments’ in life can enhance one’s cognitive skills. 
Its pretty dramatic stuff!

Link2us: In your line of work you meet people from all walks of life who have over- come the most difficult circumstances. In your observation, what are some 
of the common threads in their abilities to beat the odds and move on to live
successful lives?

Norville: It’s something that has always floored me as a reporter. We often come into people’s lives during their most dire times… and yet instead of lashing out because 
of their loss, they often find something positive to celebrate. ‘We had so many years to- gether…’ ‘I should be dead and I am not—I must be here for a reason…’ there 
sentiments were always, it seemed, coupled with gratitude. What I learned in my 
research is that gratitude will help those individuals weather a crisis better!

Link2us: In your book, you quoted Martha Washington as saying “I have 
learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery 
depends upon our disposi- tions and not upon our circumstances”. Could 
you share with us, your insights into this statement?

Norville: There will always be difficult days, disappointments, illnesses, unfulfilled 
dreams. But there is always the promise of tomorrow, of success, health and dreams
realized. When one focuses on that, one is subconsciously priming themselves to 
reach them. As Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “Whether you think you can or think 
you can’t—you’re right.” The mind is an incredibly powerful machine. I choose to 
focus mine in a positive direction—and the results, speak for themselves!

Link2us: Your book has been wonderfully received by both the faith and 
mainstream community. In your opinion, what common threads allow this 
information to be universally received?

Norville: All great religions of the world place an emphasis on the practice of gratitude. 
But one needn’t BE a religious person to enjoy the benefits of it. obviously, as a 
Christian, my faith does play a role in my own practice of gratitude—but this message 
is SO impor- tant and so life affirming for EVERYONE, that I did not want to put an over
emphasis on religion, lest that be a turn off for some would-be readers.

Link2us: As a Celebrity spokesperson for the Mother’s March of Dimes, and 
a member of the Board of the Council of girl scouts: you are very involved in
charitable groups and events. Why is this so important to you?

Norville: My own personal motto is one from Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the
Children’s Defense Fund, who says, “Service is the rent we pay for living.” I have been
blessed to have the good health and family that I do, the opportunities that have come 
my way, and an incredible public voice with which to speak. It’s why I try to find time 
for charities that are important to me, like the New York City council of Girl Scouts and 
the Alzheimer’s Association, to not only give back of my- self, but remind others that 
there are many ways they can make a difference. Sometimes it takes only a phone 
call to brighten a day—or change a life. Amazing, isn’t it?

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