By Susan Schilke, November 4, 2014
It is the month in which we set aside a day to gather with family and friends and give thanks to the bounty of blessings in our lives. Practicing gratitude has tremendous benefits to our state of mind and well-being… enough that we need to figure out how to make it a daily practice – not just one day a year.
Practicing gratitude shows up as number 10 in our series of science-backed ways to be happier. Simply taking note of three things you are grateful for each day increases levels of happiness and reduces depression. And taking time to express appreciation to our spouses, family, and team members improves relationships on both sides. We feel better about the people around us when we take note of specific things we appreciate. And they feel happier when we express that with comments or, even better, a written note.
Author Jon Gordon recommends something he calls a gratitude walk. Take 10 minutes, walk outside, and spend the time reflecting on the people and things for which you are grateful. The fresh air, exercise, and positive feelings increase your engagement and energy levels.
We have some resources on the website this month to help you take time to feel and express gratitude. Take time to review our article 10 Things Employees Really Need to Hear, offering some new insights on ways to motivate and appreciate your employees and coworkers.
And I encourage each of you to take the time to write down 100 things you are grateful for using our very simple form. To make it easier, I’ve given you categories starting with the people in your life you appreciate. Next, focus on the personal traits you were born or have developed over time that you appreciate. Then take some time to focus on experiences you’ve had, or accomplishments you’ve achieved and give thanks for those. I also invite you to appreciate your ‘stuff’ – things you own that make you happy in some way. Finally, I have a column for things that make you smile, sigh or take your breath away. This is for all those things that make you pause and revel in a moment of deep appreciation for the gift of this life.
I’m giving all my TeamStrength members time to do this activity in our one-on-ones and meetings this month. Some of them are flying through their lists. Some are struggling to embrace this mindset and take time to be grateful. As leaders, your focus is on how to improve – yourselves, your team, your business outcomes. And your vision is on the future. But take some time – not just this month, but every day – to reflect on all the good things in your lives. The increased positivity will help you be even stronger leaders.