Gratitude, the quality of feeling grateful or thankful, is a gift that leaders give to others and to themselves. Over the past two decades, research has proven that being intentional about gratitude increases optimism, reduces physical ailments, lowers anxiety and depression, improves sleep, influences generosity, increases general happiness, and can improve feelings of belonging and community!
Gratitude is an emotion like love. It is a feeling, but it can also be an act of our will. I believe that each person has the opportunity to choose gratitude. As bestselling author Andy Andrews said, “We have the choice to take command of our emotions – be like a thermostat not a thermometer.” So, where in your day will you choose gratitude?
A few years ago I was challenged by a Jon Gordon blog to increase my awareness of gratitude in my own life and to flex it. His work prompted me to discover ways of exercising my gratitude muscle. One practice is especially helpful when I am facing tough situations. If I am challenged by my own downward spiral, I begin naming all the things that I am genuinely grateful for and my energy shifts. Angst moves out and awe moves in; there is not room for both of these at once!
I often ask how leaders can help to create an environment where others can not only survive, but thrive. When participants are asked to describe a work climate where they can thrive, GRATITUDE is a reoccurring theme. When someone takes the time to say thank you, to show appreciation, and to affirm others; it changes the environment.
In Practice Being Grateful and Reap the Benefits, Carla Clark, PhD states,
“Experiment with expressing gratitude at work, with your partner, with your family and with your friends. Expressing gratitude verbally to at least one person each day will not only strengthen that particular relationship and have added benefits for yourself, you may have a profound positive effect on that individual that they in turn spread to others.”
My three favorite practices of expressing gratitude are:
- Begin and end each day with an acknowledgement of 3 things you are sincerely grateful for (say them out loud or write them in a journal).
- Say thank you more often as you move through each day. Take time to notice and appreciate others for who they are and what they do.
- Be intentional about writing notes of affirmation to the folks you work with. I made a commitment to do this for 40 days and found that, although it may have encouraged the recipients, I was encouraged and inspired by the awesomeness of others.
Being grateful and showing gratitude to others is an opportunity for leadership growth. It takes awareness, intention, and time but there is a huge payoff personally and in our company cultures when we choose to be grateful.
And it’s not just that people feel better, though they do. According to Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine, authors of the book The Power of Thanks, there are many scientifically proven beneficial effects of gratitude, revealed after more than two decades of global research. Three of the findings mentioned are:
- Grateful people achieve more.
- Grateful people are better corporate citizens.
- Grateful people are less likely to burn out.
The complete list can be found on Peter Economy’s 14 Powerfully Beneficial Effects of Gratitude blog.
Gratitude is a gift you give to yourself and to others that positively impacts health, well-being, and relationships. It’s yours to receive and to give! LEAD ON!