It’s the time of year in the US when we all remember to give thanks for our many blessings. It’s a good practice. Yet, it seems to me that since gratitude is so powerful and important, designating only one day a year to giving thanks is not enough!
According to Cicero, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others." Multiple studies have shown the correlation between gratitude and increased wellbeing not only for the individual but for all people involved. At present there is an impressive body of research showing the benefits gratitude has for the health of our brain and heart, our level of happiness, the contribution to a positive work environment, and increased productivity.
Yet, for gratefulness to be beneficial, it has to be expressed. I wonder, since gratitude is scientifically proven to enhance health and make employees more productive, why are leaders reticent about expressing gratitude?
Leaders need to speak the language of gratitude daily, not only for the benefit of their business, but also for their own benefit. According to Wikipedia, gratitude means appreciation, acknowledgement, grace, gratefulness, honor, indebtedness, obligation, and thankfulness. It’s a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.
For gratitude to do the greater good work it should be:
- Sincere. It has to come from the heart to be able to really inspire.
- Short. A few words of gratitude will have a greater impact on the brain than statements which are lengthy and wordy. "Thank you for finishing that press release on time," is enough.
- Specific. A vague "thanks for everything" doesn't do it. It has to be specific. Something like: "Thank you for staying longer yesterday to make sure that shipment went out on time," it's much more appropriate. A common suggestion positive psychologists make for improved happiness is to select someone for whom you are especially grateful and write a specific note to that person detailing the things for which you are thankful. Be specific about what he or she has done for you and how his or her actions have positively impacted you. If possible, arrange a time to meet with that person to read the note in person. Try it and see!
Don't just show your gratitude once a year during festivals or at annual appreciation dinners. Instead, build it into your daily and weekly habits, plans and policies.
Remember. . .
There is a global hunger for gratitude. Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. Challenge yourself to start off today showing your gratitude to your employees, customers, friends and family. Count your blessings not only on this special gratitude week, but every day!
Start your day today sharing words of gratitude! Do the same every day this week and see how powerful it is for you and for those you express gratitude to.