Interestingly, it’s all but impossible to feel angry, restless or unappreciated when you’re feeling grateful. Gratitude fills us up in positive, productive ways and makes us much nicer people to be around. In fact, it can brighten those around us, too, making for a more positive working environment. Taking time to think about what you’re grateful for and expressing it changes your outlook and makes you more resilient. So, if you’re juggling oranges and someone throws you a lemon, you can adjust and adapt more quickly.
Everyone has bad days. Gratitude is a tool to help you get past them. It’s a positive way of looking at situations that relies on finding a silver lining. After all, who couldn’t use a little more positivity in their life and work? People who express gratitude are happier. They focus on what they have instead of what they lack. And research affirms that positivity impacts your mental state and, given the mind/body connection, can improve your health.
You may be thinking that the whole gratitude thing is naïve. Life is moving faster, stress and fear are increasing dramatically and our neighbours to the south are fast approaching a divisive election that’s on everyone’s mind. These are exactly the times that call for the benefits of gratitude. While there’s no gratitude gene, it’s a skill you can learn. And like anything, the more you practice, the better at it you become.
Here are some ideas to help you build and maintain your ‘gratitude muscle.’
1. keep a gratitude journal.
Begin or end each day by jotting down at least three things you’re grateful for or proud of that happened that day or that you’re looking forward to. Guaranteed, it’ll lead to a more positive working environment.
2. enhance your vocabulary.
Start paying attention to the language you use when talking to and about yourself and others. Positive language is affirming; it builds you up. Instead of saying ‘I have to [fill in the blank], try ‘I get to [fill in the blank]’. The first sounds like a punishment, the latter a reward. Changing one word changes your entire attitude.
3. express gratitude to – and for – yourself.
Build your confidence and familiarity with the gratitude process by starting with yourself. Acknowledge your own accomplishments and efforts.
4. express gratitude to your co-workers.
Everyone needs positive reinforcement from time to time, even if you have to dig deep to find something. And remember, you don’t have to like or get along with everyone, but you do have to work hard to not let negativity rule the day. You’d be amazed at what a sincere compliment here and there can do for your working relationships.
5. thank the people you come in contact with.
A bank teller, waiter, cab driver, professor – no one is immune to the power of a thank you. It’s a tiny seed that takes root and grows as each person pays it forward. Think about it, when you hold open a door for someone and they say ‘thank you’ it makes you feel a little warm inside, doesn’t it? Extend that feeling to others and you’ll be a happier, more positive person to be around.
6. start meetings with acknowledgments.
A weekly or monthly team or departmental meeting is a great place to express gratitude and positivity. Too often we get caught up in what needs to be done next and forget to acknowledge past successes. Start each meeting by having participants share something positive about their job or a project. It’ll get people thinking about alternate ways of looking at events and issues that can increase engagement, build teams, and stimulate communication.
7. thank your team.
If you’re a manager or team lead, thank the members of your team collectively and individually. And make sure your praise is specific, targeted and sincere. When your employees feel appreciated, they’re happier and more productive.
Put these tips into practice and chart your progress. What feels awkward at first will become second nature with practice. You’ll not only affect those around you but you’ll change yourself. Gratitude is powerful. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So… what are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?