It’s the Thanksgiving holiday here in the US this week. It’s a time we spend with family and friends and give thanks for all the bounty in our lives. A recent survey commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation revealed how Americans think about gratitude. More than 90 percent agreed that grateful people are more fulfilled, lead richer lives and are more likely to have friends.
Given a list of categories, people were most grateful for their immediate families, followed closely by freedom. Lowest on the list was ‘your current job.’ (That is, except for those making over $150,000 a year)
The prevailing majority feel “lots to be thankful for.” What’s interesting to me about the survey though is while gratitude is very important to Americans and we actively feel grateful there seems to be a gap between how often we feel it and how often we express it!
- A significant gratitude gap exists in America. 90% of people describe themselves as grateful for their family and 87 % are similarly grateful for their closest friends. But only 52 percent of women and 44 percent of men express gratitude on a regular basis.
- Expressing gratitude can lift other people’s spirits–and your own, too. 60 % say they express gratitude to make themselves feel good and 57% do so to make other people feel good. Nearly half say it makes the world a better place.
- People are less likely to express gratitude at work than anyplace else. 74% never or rarely express gratitude to their boss. But people are eager to have a boss who expresses gratitude to them. 70% would feel better about themselves if their boss was more grateful and 81% would work harder.
- Gratitude can lead to success. 94% of women and 96% of men agree that a grateful boss is more likely to be successful. Only 18% feel a grateful boss could be seen as weak.
Let’s change that – if you feel grateful, express your gratitude! Say “Thank you” more often. Drop the phrase “No Problem” forever. When you appreciate someone’s effort, say so, nod your head and give a big smile. A sincere “Thanks for all you do” it’s good for the body and good for the soul.
For the last ten years, since I became an “Authentic Happiness Coach” with Marty Seligman, I’ve been encouraging people (and companies) to develop a regular “practice” of creating feelings of gratitude. A “practice” of gratitude and happiness will create positive changes in you that will lead to positive changes in your business all year ’round.
There’s plenty of proof that there are major health benefits to feeling grateful and happy; such feelings can reduce stress, boost your immune system, open your mind to new possibilities and make it easier to be kind and creative. We get smarter, healthier and more socially adept. There’s evidence that feeling good is “contagious,” and positively impact those around you. Positive Cultures increase the odds of success of business. It’s the “secret sauce” in all of the best companies.
When you intentionally set out to feel grateful and happy every day, the benefits will ripple inward and outward, enhancing your well being, and the lives of your co-workers and customers. This translates into a healthier more positive work environment that can lead to increased profits. Why? Evidence abounds that links employee happiness and customer happiness.
Here are seven tips for developing a practice of gratitude and happiness:
On Thanksgiving Day take a moment to look a family member or friend in the eye and with kindness in your voice tell them one thing about them for which you are grateful. Do you appreciate and enjoy their easy laugh? Do you love how curious they are? Do you appreciate their playfulness? Tell them how grateful you are for the specific qualities you love about them. Do that a lot, and they and you will feel the love!
Identify someone who has made a difference in your life. This could be a mentor, manager, someone in another department, a co-worker from a former job, a customer. Anyone who has impacted you in a positive way. Write that person a letter, specifically thanking them for the way they touched your life. It could be that that person encouraged you in a career decision, helped you through a difficult time, coached you, taught you new skills, or perhaps saw something in you that no one else did. Send it out or, better yet, deliver it in person and notice how terrific you feel. This works like magic, creating happiness for you and the recipient.
Write in your personal Gratitude Journal nightly and you’ll have sweet dreams. Create a “departmental” Gratitude Journal and you’ll help build a dream team. Keep it in an easily accessible spot in your department, and encourage everyone on your team to write at least one line daily about something for which they’re grateful. This simple exercise in focusing people on something that makes them happy and appreciative gets them to be on the lookout for more of the same. Being focused on what’s positive will have a powerful impact on the way co-workers interact and the way they treat customers as well.
That’s right: Stop what you’re doing and breathe deeply (Even the busiest person in the world can make time for this powerful mood-altering and stress-relieving exercise). As you do this, think about something you deeply appreciate, or imagine your heart smiling. Most people don’t realize that the mind can’t tell the difference between that which is real and that which is vividly imagined. If you recall a pleasant and calming scene and breathe deeply and fully into it, your body will relax as if you are there. Trick yourself into relaxing.
Rethink the way you open staff meetings – Before you get down to business, begin every meeting by having each person in the room share something for which they’re grateful. This creates camaraderie and inspires creativity as it literally gets everyone on the same ‘wavelength.’ Every emotion has a vibration, getting everyone on the vibration of appreciation gets the team to the heart of the matter quickly.
Send “Thank You” cards to customers, employees and suppliers. Make sure they’re personal and handwritten. And not to worry if you don’t think you’re a ‘great writer.’ Simply thanking customers or other stakeholders for their business goes a long way.
Genuinely thank employees and co-workers on a regular basis. If you’re a manager, make it a point to tell each and every employee what it is about them that you’re specifically grateful for. You can focus on a special characteristic you really appreciate – a sense of humor, a can-do attitude – or actions they took that made a difference in the company.
Remember, what you focus on expands. Focus on the good and you’ll get more of it.
Make a promise to close the gratitude gap in your life and at work.
Thank you for being a member of this positive customer caring family, may you and yours experience an abundance of blessings in this season of giving.
PS If you contributed to my gratitude inquiry in the last tip – THANK YOU so much for sharing your thoughts with me.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.