The art of practicing gratitude
Practicing gratitude is probably not something that dominates your to-do list when you’re setting up or running a business, but this simple technique can really improve your outlook, success, and general wellbeing. By making a small yet conscious effort to be truly thankful, you will find it easier to deal with stress, build positive relationships with customers and employees, and maintain perspective during challenging times. These are essential traits all business owners and leaders should possess.
Practicing gratitude doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some people have a tendency to focus on the negatives or take things for granted. It’s still possible to be successful in business without acknowledging the efforts of others, but it’s not the healthiest way to get ahead. Nor is it a recipe for success for everyone. Some people are just incredibly lucky, or have an idea that is so good that their general disposition is immaterial to their success.
The power of gratefulness is a well-researched topic, and there’s a growing body of proof to support its efficacy in business. You don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of time on this, you just need to incorporate it into your everyday life. It may take a bit of time to get used to, but it will soon become second nature. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or thankfulness jar. Make an effort to show appreciation to other people, or simply take 5 minutes out of each day to sit down and think about what you’re thankful for. I realise this may sound a bit zany, but it does work.
First thing in the morning or just before going to bed are the best times to write entries in your journal. You can even get an app if that is more your style. Write down one, two, three (or more) things you are grateful for. The smallest things count. In fact, it’s the little things we should learn to appreciate more. That way we are less inclined to feel ungrateful. You don’t have to get all gushy or tap into your inner feelings – that’s not for everyone. But if it works for you, go for it!
You can even use this journal to write about challenges or disappointments you’ve faced that day. But rather than focusing on the negatives, think about what you could have done differently and how you can use this to your advantage in the future. Turn the situation into an opportunity for improvement. You never know what great ideas will present themselves as a result.
Any old jar will do. It doesn’t even have to be a jar. It can be a box, an envelope, a plant pot. Whatever takes your fancy. The idea is to write down one thing you are thankful for. Do this on a daily basis. It can be a person, an opportunity, an experience, an object. At the end of every month, go through all your little bits of paper to remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for. It’s pretty uplifting, and sometimes rather amusing. I don’t tell anyone what’s in there, but you can share them with other people if you like.
No journal or jar required. Just take the time to appreciate the small things, or significant things, that other people do for you. It can be as simple as acknowledging a job well done by your employees. It might be something they always do because it’s what they’re paid to do, but we have a tendency to only mention the things we’re unhappy about and take people for granted. Show them that you recognise their hard work and value their dedication. It’s a little act that requires little to no effort, but it’s a worthwhile one that can increase the productivity and loyalty of the people you rely on.
If you’d rather take a purely conceptual approach to practicing gratitude, take yourself somewhere quite in the morning or evening and just think about what you’re thankful for that day; what challenges or negative thoughts you’ve had to deal with; the benefits and positive experiences you can take from these things.
It’s worth doing this at any time you have a negative thought, get stressed about something that’s gone wrong, or annoyed with someone who has disappointed you or been rude. We all know there’s no benefit to being negative – it just sets us back and makes it difficult to focus and progress. But in order to overcome our natural tendency to gravitate toward negativity, we need to change our mindset. And the best way to do this is to get into the habit of being grateful and positive.
Rachel Craig is a guest contributor from Quality Formations Ltd, the leading company formation agents in the UK.