Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here? As we look back on this very stressful year, it often feels difficult to be thankful, but I’m taking this opportunity to remember why gratitude is important.
Studies show that people who practice gratitude often have improved happiness, life satisfaction, optimism, and quality of relationships. Thinking about what we’re thankful for can also make us calmer, decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol, improve cardiac function, and increase resilience.
And the benefits don’t stop with us – they also affect our workspace. A recent study found writing in a gratitude journal can decrease gossiping and rudeness at work. Gratitude can also cause people to be more agreeable, show more openness to ideas, and have lower rates of burnout. It leads to improvements in achieving career goals, decision making, and productivity, too.
Finding and showing gratitude doesn’t always come easy, though. The good news is, incorporating a gratitude practice can be very low-effort and doesn’t have to take a lot of time.
One of the simplest ways to incorporate gratitude into your day is to make a habit of thinking about three things you’re grateful for once a day. Don’t overthink it – you don’t have to come up with new ones every day, and they can be small things like a good cup of coffee or a podcast episode you enjoyed. If you’re really struggling to come up with something, think about the things you take for granted; having a home, plenty of food, your health, etc. are all certainly things to be grateful for, even if they’re not always top of mind.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a great strategy, too. You can simply jot down a few things in a notebook a couple times a week, or you can purchase one of the many gratitude journals available with prompts that may help you stay engaged in the process. Want to take it to another level? Try thinking about which person contributed to each item on your list.
Your team needs to know that you appreciate them and what they’re doing matters. Make an effort to thank them regularly. And don’t only say “thank you” and move on; try the “Gratitude 1-2-3” method. First, describe in detail what the person did, then acknowledge their effort, then tell them how it touched or benefitted you.
There are lots of great ways to incorporate appreciation into your day. Try designating a “gratitude day” every week, and on that day, thank at least one person, whether that’s with a card, text, call, or email. You might also try understanding how the person likes to be acknowledged and tailor your show of gratitude to them.
Make gratitude a habit for your whole team by setting an example and by creating spaces for them to show their appreciation. I’ve read lots of ideas for how to do this one, too. Have a daily 2-minute live chat where team members can write out their kudos for their coworkers. If you send a weekly update to your team, call out someone who’s going above and beyond in it. After thanking someone, encourage them to show their appreciation to someone, too. If someone’s really knocking it out of the park, bring together the rest of the team and show your appreciation as a group.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to giving thanks. No matter how you do it, practice gratitude – you’ll probably see some benefits in your life and your work!