By Barbara Churchill
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”– Melody Beattie
We’ve all heard the expression “attitude of gratitude” but other than holiday season when do you turn your attention to the things for which you are grateful?
That sounds like a good thing to do. After all, grateful people share the following characteristics:
- Grateful people are more optimistic, energetic, enthusiastic, determined, interested, joyful
- They feel stronger when faced with a challenge, get more sleep, exercise more, get sick less
- Grateful people are more likely to help others, have less clutter in their surroundings, have clear thinking, are less envious, experience less stress, are more organized, make more progress towards goals, live longer
All good stuff, right?
Well, I’d like to take it a little deeper.
Suppose you looked at the word gratitude as a verb—an action word?
What if in addition to thinking grateful thoughts you started behaving in a grateful way?
What does that look like?
Here are 10 ways to express your gratitude with actions at home and at work:
Gratitude journal. Record what you’re thankful for before bed, in the morning, or keep a small notebook with you during the day. I write in my gratitude journal before I go to sleep. It’s a beautiful way to drift off, plus studies have shown that what you focus on at bedtime is what you’ll wake up to in the morning. Why not give yourself a head start!
Gratitude box. It could be like a recipe card box with 4×6 cards and dividers with the months of the year written on them. Date the 4×6 cards, 1-31 for each month. Then write down one thing daily and put the year after what you wrote. You can reuse these cards year after year and will have a keepsake of all you’ve been grateful for over the years in one spot.
List of 100 things. Make a list of things/people that you’re grateful for and use my journal pages (see barbarachurchill.com) to help get you started. Write this out by hand; studies have shown it’s the most powerful way to create energy and manifestations, rather than typing. Work application: Do this for the position you currently hold. Make it a game to see how quickly you can reach 100. Don’t like your job? Dig deeper. There is always something to be grateful for in practically every situation.
Express gratitude at the dinner table. My family has been doing this for years. We initially started because the grace we said was becoming rote and our kids weren’t invested in it. Expressing gratitude for things that happened that day keeps us all in the moment and present with the gifts that come our way, however small. (We’ve done this for so long, that our kids’ friends are participating, too!) Work application: Do you tell your team or colleagues that you are grateful for them regularly? We are all so busy doing our jobs we might forget to tell those around us, especially those that support us, how thankful we are that they are there. Put a smile on someone’s face today by letting him or her know.
Thank the people behind the service. Do you get coffee daily? Drop off dry cleaning? Have your car washed, house cleaned, shop at a store where a cashier checks you out, eat in a restaurant? When is the last time you actually thanked them for the ease they bring into your life? Use their name, make eye contact and really thank them. People just want to be noticed.
Give thanks for the hard stuff. Instead of regretting your mistakes or being caught up in how you were wronged and the drama that goes along with that, look at the challenges you’ve faced and be grateful for what you’ve learned. There’s always a lesson in everything. Work application: When the goal isn’t met or the effort falls short, how do you as a leader handle that? If you aren’t pointing out the little successes, you’re missing a great opportunity to let your team know they are doing a good job despite this setback. Hold a meeting to review what worked well and open the conversation to the lessons they learned. Within this wisdom are many gold nuggets you can use in the future.
Handwritten notes. No typing or emailing here! Write a note of thanks to a mentor, coach, teacher, friend—someone who has influenced your life in a positive way. Work application: When is the last time you received a thank you note from your boss or you gave one to a team member? In this get-it-done-yesterday environment, taking 3-5 minutes to write a sincere and specific note goes a long way toward maintaining trust and loyalty within your team.
Be the example. When gathering with friends, avoid turning it into a complaint session. Start with some gratitude for what’s happening (or not happening, like illness, job loss, etc.) in your life. Notice how that affects the tone of the gathering. Work application: It is all too easy to join in on gossip on a Monday morning, so be proactive and start the conversation on a positive note. Show up as the leader you are, even at the “water cooler.”
Give thanks for the mundane. We all get caught taking our spouse or partner or people in general for granted for things they do all the time; making dinner, cleaning the bathrooms, grocery shopping, fixing stuff around the house, so take time to acknowledge the small stuff, too. The people in your life will appreciate it immensely. Work application: Is there always a fresh pot of coffee ready in the break room, for example? Such things don’t just happen magically. Someone is making sure it all gets done every day. Take the time to find out whose job it is to handle the day-to-day small tasks at your facility and be grateful they are there to do so. You may want to write them a note of thanks (see #7).
Pause. The next time you’re outside, pause and look up. Give thanks to The Universe that created the beautiful lakes right in our backyard, colorful leaves, snowflakes and breezes that cool. Nature can be taken for granted so easily in our busy lives. Pause and notice. We truly live in an amazing world!
Put these actions into practice—choose at least one. Just make sure you commit to taking action and being in gratitude each and every day, at home and at work!