The Surprising Benefits of Gratitude
When facing as much uncertainty as we have over the last year, resilience comes to mind as an increasingly critical skill. Resilience enables us to remain optimistic amidst disruption and destabilization. But what effect does focusing on the positive have on resilience?
Expressing gratitude in a meaningful way requires thoughtful reflection. It means not only processing an event or situation and identifying those who were involved in it, but also making connections between those people, their actions, and the impact. Instead of checking a box when you complete a task then moving on, expressing gratitude encourages you to focus on outcomes collaboratively, acknowledging that we can’t do everything solo.
The expression of gratitude has some fascinating science behind it. Studies show that taking time to reflect on your work can improve your performance. And in other studies, we see a potential link between gratitude and increased happiness and good health. So it’s critical to not just pause to reflect on our work, but also to practice gratitude.
Gratitude at Work
How does this show up at work? Whether you’re working remotely, in the office, or a bit of both, the link between gratitude and resilience makes a compelling case for more gratitude at work.
PositivePsychology.com writes that emotional resilience comes from five components: social competence, problem-solving, autonomy, forgiveness, empathy, and – according to more recent studies – gratitude. HBR suggests that to build resilience, you should write down what you’re grateful for to tap into the benefits of a positive outlook and regularly expressing gratitude.
Aside from the benefits for yourself, never underestimate the power of a simple “Thank you” and the impact on the engagement and motivation of your employees.
Build Your Resilience by Practicing Gratitude
What better time to practice a way to build your resilience than right now, as we slowly yet steadily emerge from a pandemic? You have a great opportunity today to begin practicing a new habit to increase your resilience.
Here are some ideas for practicing gratitude:
- If you’re a leader of a team, dedicate time in your regular team meetings to thank a team member for their effort or work with specific examples.
- Encourage your team to express gratitude to their peers and help them build resilience by building connections and prioritizing their relationships and wellness during this time.
- Write a thank-you note or email. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy summary, but putting into writing your gratitude towards someone and sharing it with them starts a chain of positivity for both you and them.
- Reflect at the end of every day, week, or month about your work and what you’re grateful for. Whether it’s a development opportunity, a coworker's friendship, a stretch assignment, an exciting project, or even a small detail, take the time to think about it intentionally.
- Get in the habit of expressing gratitude spontaneously and frequently. When someone does something you’re grateful for, don’t wait! Let them know on the spot with a heartfelt acknowledgment of their action and the impact.
- Ask a direct report how they prefer to be appreciated and thanked – and use that information!
- Be honest and vulnerable about the appreciation you value hearing from others. Watch this Ted Talk “Remember to Say Thank You” by Laura Trice for more.
One leadership lesson for tough times is to focus on our vision, relying on our “why” for direction and stability. Resilience helps us continue to move forward toward that vision with the result in mind and gratitude is an integral part of that.
As you take time to reflect on gratitude and resilience, ask yourself: Who has helped you recently? How will you thank them?