Giving thanks beyond Thanksgiving
Around this time every year, people across the country are reminded of reasons to express appreciation and gratitude in celebration of Thanksgiving. But 30 days during the month of November is not enough time to internalize and exercise the power of gratitude, which can have long-lasting benefits. So, how can this habit be cultivated all year long?
First…what is gratitude?
Some may say it’s an emotion, or a virtue or a behavior. Gratitude manifests in different ways for every person in different situations.
According to Harvard Health Publishing: “Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.”
That goodness, which may often be sourced outside of the individual, helps people connect to something larger than themselves — other people, nature or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
What gratitude gives back
Gratitude is a commitment you make to yourself in order to enjoy life a little more, including your work and professional life. When people feel and appreciate that they can trust one another and understand that they are important to a team, this can foster creativity, innovation, engagement and effective collaboration.
Benefits of gratitude include:
- Easier to focus
- Better physical and/or mental health
- Increased happiness and life satisfaction
- More appreciation for what you have and less emphasis on what you don’t have
- Improved relationships (coworker, partner, spouse, children, friends, family members)
- Improved work ethic
Practicing gratitude at work
Employees are often motivated when shown appreciation from their coworkers and managers, but displays of gratitude don’t always have to be as formal as writing a thank you note or taking someone to lunch. Simply saying “thank you” or “I appreciate your work on this” are small actions that go a long way in making others feel more valued and motivated in their work.
According to MHealthy, individuals who express and receive gratitude may become more trusting with each other and more likely to help each other out. In turn, these compassionate values and actions can provide many strategic advantages for an organization, including productivity, employee and customer retention, and many other positive workplace effects.
Practicing gratitude at work may not be second nature, but there are things to ask yourself that may help:
- What is one thing at work I am grateful for today?
- Who at work do I appreciate and how can I show them?
- What is something about my job I’m looking forward to today?
These questions may help shift your thinking and create positivity around challenges.
Maybe you write a note to a coworker thanking them for their help on a project, or you lead your team meeting this week with an appreciation message.
The small things you can do on a daily basis to express gratitude can lead to long lasting results over time. And that will make thankfulness last well beyond Thanksgiving.