In the spirit of recent staff appreciation celebrations, today’s blog post is about gratitude.
What is gratitude? Gratitude is recognition of goodness outside of ourselves that inspires appreciation and reciprocation. Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of the Greater Good Magazine, in an article titled Six Habits of Highly Grateful People, asserts that “Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It’s a lens that helps us to see the things that don’t make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It’s a spotlight that we shine on the people who give us the good things in life. It’s a bright red paintbrush we apply to otherwise-invisible blessings, like clean streets or health or enough food to eat.”
How often do we stop, during the workday, to appreciate the goodness around us? On noodle.com, the question was asked, What are the top 3 reasons someone should attend University of California-Berkeley? The following are just a few of the responses: “the diversity of our campus is incredible,” “the sense of community and pride that comes with being a golden bear,” “lovely weather,” “the #1 public institution in the world,” “world-renowned university with top faculty, academic departments, and research activities,” “ the incredible food around here,” “it’s filled with awesome, intellectual, interesting people,” “the students, faculty, and all staff work hard to make this institution absolutely wonderful and a home”….and the list goes on. What good things, good moments and/or good people do you appreciate each day at Berkeley?
Why practice gratitude? Gratitude is good for us! Scientific research points to innumerable benefits of practicing gratitude. It makes us happier, strengthens our relationships and our emotional status, reduces anxiety and stress, improves social ties, increases our sense of self worth, makes us more resilient through hard times, etc.
So how do we do it? Some of us are better than others at gratitude – but it’s good for all of us. We must practice to reap the benefits. It is easy to find ourselves stuck in moments, at work, where it is hard to see the good, the possible. This is when we need gratitude the most to lessen anxiety and open us up to new possibilities.
Here are three things we can start doing today to practice gratitude:
- Over the next few days, make a mental note of grateful moments. This makes the moments more meaningful and prompts us to look for more.
- Express thankfulness for the hard stuff. Think about what the challenges have taught you. What can you be grateful for? What do you now know about yourself? How have the hardships served you?
- Focus your gratitude on people at work for whom you are thankful and include them directly into your expression of gratitude.
By Erin Wixson, Senior Organizational Consultant