Today being Thanksgiving, it is a natural time to think about gratitude. However, our lives would be radically different if every day we found reasons to be grateful.
Let’s start with a simple exercise that can help to develop that lifestyle.
Think of a time when you were really grateful. Really go into details of what it was like to feel grateful. Literally take a couple of minutes just to taste it.
As you remember a time when you were grateful, what happens to you the more you think of that time?
What are you experiencing? Feeling? Thinking?
Notice that you are becoming more grateful in the present.
Notice that no matter what you were feeling before you took those couple of minutes, you are now more content and peaceful.
Notice the humility, the awareness of what a gift you were given.
Notice the simplicity.
Now think for a moment. What would happen to your life if you took even just 5 mins a day to think of a time when you were grateful?
How would you lead your team differently? How would you approach your stakeholders?
How would you give feedback to a direct report? How would you receive feedback?
Gratitude is serious business.
If you read Benefits of Gratitude, you will find 31 benefits to developing a lifestyle of gratitude, including:
Becoming a better manager
Improved networking skills
Achieving more goals
Improved decision making
Gratitude makes a huge difference in the business world.
So now let’s talk about some different ways in which you can cultivate gratitude in your life
1. Remember moments when you were grateful - Gratitude Chronicle
This is what you did at the beginning of this blog. If you download the Gratitude Chronicle that we’ve created, you can capture different times throughout your life when you felt grateful.
Some like to write the details about the times when they felt grateful on the Excel spreadsheet. Others like to write just the headline and then let themselves really get into the story.
If you write not only the facts of your gratitude story but also what you feel about the facts, that will help you get into a grateful mindset.
Typically gratitude happens when we:
Get relief from a hard time we are going through.
Are given a gift.
Remember the things that we take for granted, which would be a terrible loss to us if they were taken away (i.e. our eyesight, family, friends, etc.).
Hear someone else’s stories of when they felt grateful.
Any of these could be captured in your gratitude chronicle.
2. When you give negative feedback to a direct report, also give 2 or 3 things you are grateful for with respect to who they are or the work they did.
Your direct reports want to know you value them. If they hear mostly criticism from you, they will tend to focus on that criticism instead of what you value about them. So when you give negative feedback, be sure to include 2-3 things you are genuinely grateful for. Then find more positive ways to communicate the feedback so they can see that you are looking to help them grow even further, rather than squash them down.
3. Start a ritual of beginning your day by thinking of three things you are grateful for about the previous day.
Imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning and feel grateful.
Another simple way to develop this skill is to start your day with it.
When you wake up in the morning, take a few minutes to list three things that happened the day before that you were grateful for. Let yourself enjoy these three for a few minutes so you can taste the gratitude.
If there were bigger things that happened, take the time to record them in your gratitude chronicle.
As is implied by this blog, gratitude is a skill that can be grown and improved. A few minutes a day will go a long way towards developing a lifestyle of gratitude.
I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with finding ways to be grateful for those who are enjoying this day with you!
Chew On This:
What would your team be like if everyone cultivated a lifestyle of gratitude?
Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.