Why You Should Embrace the Attitude of Gratitude

By: Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, Northeast Indiana Innovation Center

Not feeling very thankful? It could be affecting your health and career. Science tells us that thankful people are better off than their less gracious peers. Taking into account several studies, Harvard Health contends that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Other research points to the same conclusion.

Gratitude is about expressing appreciation for what you have not what you want so the next time you’re feeling sour, consider these insights:

Gratitude can enhance your image. A 2012 survey by the John Templeton Foundation suggests that expressing gratitude creates the impression that the thanker is successful and, therefore, they are more positioned for success. The lion’s share of survey participants agreed that “a grateful boss is more likely to be successful.” This doesn’t necessary imply a causal relationship—that gratitude can lead to success—but it does underline that perception is reality.

Gratitude can boost your ego, self-confidence and self-esteem. It really comes full circle. When people notice that you thank them for their hard work, they’ll be more inclined to continue to work to please you. You’ll feel more significant (ego boost) and your team members will feel more valued (ego boost). See, everybody wins.

Gratitude is good for business retention and loyalty. Disney is a master at “magical moments” – random acts of kindness that promote engagement and happy memories. Often, engagement leads to stronger business performance and results. Unexpected kindness yields all sorts of benefits to the giver and the receiver of the kindness. As restauranteur Danny Meyer reminded us, “Hospitality is key: virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction.”

Gratitude encourages patience. In one recent study, the research indicated that a gracious mindset helps us make longer-term decisions. For example, subjects who reflected on a time when they were grateful were more likely to choose a check to be mailed to them, versus taking a smaller amount of cash immediately. The findings suggest a connection between gratitude and discipline, which may assist in helping people quit smoking, losing weight and being financially responsible.

Gratitude grounds us. It’s easy to get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” by buying things to maintain or enhance image. Sociologists call it the Treadmill of Consumption. We continue to purchase more and more stuff, but we don’t get any closer to happiness. Instead, we simply speed up the treadmill. Gracious people know that the newest shiny thing won’t bring happiness and focus on simplicity and essentialism (BTW this is a terrific book on how to focus on what you care about and how to focus on doing less and doing it better.)

Psychology Today posits “gratefulness—and especially expression of it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism and empathy.” Happy people are healthier people.

If you have embraced an attitude of gratitude in your personal or professional life, how has it impacted you?


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