The Power of Gratitude
Happy Belated Canadian Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. We hope you enjoyed the long weekend and managed to take some well-deserved downtime with the people who matter most to you.
The timing couldn’t be better to talk about the power of gratitude and the impact it has on both our professional and personal lives. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect, give thanks and appreciation for the things and people we cherish most in our lives. Practicing gratitude itself is a best practice that ensures you exhibit a positive attitude and mindset in everything you do. Gratitude benefits us in many ways. It can improve our overall mental health and well-being, and bring joy to our personal and professional relationships.
Practicing an attitude of gratitude is a mental state that demonstrates thankfulness for the good things in our lives, and it can be contagious. Your thinking creates your reality, so it makes sense to consider the thoughts you keep as they will define the outcome of your day-to-day interactions and ultimately your life.
Why Gratitude is Important to Your Leadership Effectiveness
As a leader, every word you speak and every action you take is observed. Most importantly, the people you lead will follow the example you set, so be mindful of the energy you exhibit. You set the tone and influence the type of culture your organization desires to create, so be the change you want to see in others as Maya Angelou would say.
The benefit to you as a leader and human being is that you will feel happier, less stressed, and ultimately, you will be more productive and successful. Those around you will feel appreciated and supported because grateful people tend to be more supportive and helpful than those who aren’t.
Life is all about choices and choosing to be grateful is entirely up to you. Would you rather wake up and choose to be angry, frustrated, jealous or ambivalent towards others? As we have noted in past blogs, the human brain will naturally look for the negative first unless you train it otherwise. Practicing gratitude is a way to rewire the brain to look for the positive first. We are not suggesting we ignore our blind spots and that there won’t be tough decisions and adversity in our lives. However, how we choose to react to situations that arise is within our control.
Before we unveil a few simple best practices, I want to be respectful and address the fact that there are people who might feel more challenged to find the good in every situation and moment. In fact, one in five Canadians suffer from some form of mental health challenge, and simply shifting your thinking might not feel possible without some additional assistance and support. I totally get it as I, too, have been dealing with mental health challenges since the age of 16. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder back in the day when we knew very little about the wide variety of mental health issues. Thankfully, I found ways to manage it and have been able to live a very fulfilling and gracious life as a result.
Gratitude Best Practices
#1. Daily Gratitude
As part of one of our more in-depth leadership programs (Personal Leadership Program), we assign gratitude as a homework assignment between sessions. We ask participants to take time out of their busy lives to pause and reflect for a few minutes every day on 3 things for which they are grateful. We provide a journal as a tool to help them keep track and encourage them to look for the small things, not necessarily the big things which can be more obvious. One of the most gratifying experiences for me as their coach and facilitator is to listen to the insights and stories that come out of this experience.
So, now we are encouraging all of you to pause and do the same. It doesn't matter if you do this in the morning, throughout your day, or as you lay your head down to sleep at night. Just a few minutes of gratefulness can boost your mood at anytime.
#2. Show Appreciation and Be Appreciative
Appreciation is a leadership best practice as it brings out the best in others and us. When we appreciate what others do well, they will continue doing well. It is part of cultivating an attitude of gratitude. When you take a moment to honestly recognize and relish what’s good around you, you will see more goodness taking place.
#3. Express Your Gratitude
Canadians are known worldwide for our politeness and manners – it’s just a Canadian thing and it’s not a bad thing, so let’s leverage it to our advantage.
The key is recognizing what you’re grateful for and being specific when you are offering that gratitude or thanks towards others, as that is what will help them grow and flourish. It is part of practicing the strength-based leadership philosophy. For example: “You facilitated that meeting with confidence. You were organized and engaged everyone in the meeting. Really well done.”
Practicing gratitude has been linked with many benefits, such as improved mental and physical health, increased happiness, and resilience when faced with challenging times and stress.
Embracing and cultivating gratitude increases energy, enthusiasm, determination, and optimism. Gratitude plays a role in deepening relationships and connections, both personally and professionally.
Grateful people tend to be more dialed in and empathetic towards others which will help prevent negative emotions such as anger, stress, anxiety, or depression.
Choose Gratitude as Your Attitude
Gratitude is the ideal attitude because it makes you happier, healthier, and more creative. People who practice gratitude have greater longevity and can handle stress more effectively than those who don’t express feelings of appreciation for what they have in life.
Negativity is like a clogged drain; it prevents us from coming up with new ideas and thoughts that propel us forward. Research shows that gratitude makes you more creative, hence more innovation can be realized through the practice of gratitude.
Grateful Times Ahead!
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can change our lives for the better and it can make us happier, healthier, and more successful. When we express gratitude, we send the message that we value others, and by being grateful, we open ourselves to receive more goodness in our lives.
What are your thoughts on this topic? We would love to hear from you so feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me at 416-560-1806.