Gratitude: I’ve watched transform people’s lives and improve their wellbeing. I’ve been so impressed, I decided to adopt the practice for myself. I write down in my journal three things for which I am grateful every morning upon waking. It starts my day with a very positive focus and has enhanced my life. There is so much to know about the positive effects of gratitude.
A Multitude of Benefits to Gratitude
Studies show that there are a multitude of benefits to the practice of gratitude.
It changes our personalities in a positive way. Gratitude makes us more optimistic. We also become less materialistic, more spiritual, and less self-centered. With gratitude we are more open to kindness, which we then want to reciprocate. This helps us to develop more friendships and deepen our relationships. Ultimately it makes us more likeable, which increases our confidence and self-esteem.
Gratitude has the power to reshape our neural pathways. Which means that over time, it can reprogram our brains in a way that helps us cope with the stresses of life. Being grateful makes us feel good: it reduces negative feelings of envy, distrust, insecurity, and depression. It increases positive feelings of self-suffiency, determination, attention, and enthusiasm. It energizes you!
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Many of us wake up in the middle of the night worrying. As we continue to worry, it becomes harder to go back to sleep. When this happens to me I think back to the three things I listed that day for which I’m grateful. I don’t usually make it past the first “gratitude” on my list before I fall soundly back to sleep. This happens because fear-based worry cannot coexist in your mind with gratefulness.
Your ability to regularly sleep well influences your mood. People who practice gratitude sleep well and are less anxious and depressed than those who do not; therefore gratitude has a direct effect on anxiety and depression.
Bringing Gratitude to the Payday HCM Table
The culmination of many of these benefits can change your career. Managers who practice gratitude are more likely to give praise to employees, which increases job satisfaction. For all employees, gratitude improves decision-making skills, productivity, and goal achievement.
Naturally, I wanted to share these benefits with my staff so we figured out a way to implement a practice into our company. So many meetings are held in order to solve a problem or refine a troublesome process. I realized that if we implemented a practice of gratitude at the beginning of our meetings, it could change the way we interact as we move through the topic at hand. With this in mind, I began to ask my employees to tell us something for what they feel grateful, or excited.
This does several things:
1) It gives everyone a chance to speak about something they are the expert about: they own their gratitude;
2) It puts everyone on the same human level: we are opening ourselves to the others with relatively personal information; and
3) It provides positive energy for a meeting that might have an overarching negativity.
Everyone knows to anticipate this routine. They also know they must participate, so they are most often ready with their statement of gratitude. This practice has built a strong team as it has facilitated better understanding of each other. We have a friendly, supportive, and happy workplace.
Developing a Practice
One of my good friends inspired me to begin my gratitude practice, but he does it differently. He carries a small pebble in his pocket. Every morning that he gathers the items he carries in his pockets, he sees that pebble and is reminded to recognize his gratitude.
It takes as little as 5 minutes a day to build positive feedback loops; however, it takes several months to see the greatest benefits. Why? Because:
1) It takes time to develop the ability to easily identify for what you have to be grateful.
2) Some personalities are more grateful than others, meaning that it can take time to change from someone who doesn’t feel gratitude into someone who does.
Take this quiz to find out if you are someone who feels gratitude.
The most important thing about this practice is to know that it is just that: a practice. You can’t learn to play the piano without practice nor can you become mindful about the things you have for which to be grateful. Start today and change your life.