Last time we unlocked the secrets of gratitude. And though many interesting ideas and research came up, I think I might have left you on a little bit of a cliffhanger.
Typically, I present some actions or behaviors on how you can execute the ideas presented, and I didn’t do that, so I feel like I own you one.
Today we explore some of the ways to “do” gratitude.
But before we get into it, if you haven’t already read the previous post Beyond Gratitude, then I encourage you to do so. It will give you a good grounding for what we uncover today.
Alright. Are you ready? Let’s get started!
We all know that gratitude helps us feel a stronger sense of positivity, happiness, and well-being, and numerous studies bear this out.
And we’ve all heard of gratitude journals to keep track of what we are grateful for and appreciate of.
But what can we really do to experience an optimal effect of gratitude in our lives, and the lives of others?
First, let’s start at home in our own space that we call ourselves.
We have a lot to be grateful for, but we don’t often take the time to think about those things. We tend to take a lot of the things that happen to us and within us for granted.
But there is a fair amount of scientific research that tells us that gratitude and recording our gratefulness can produce real results in our own levels of happiness, optimism, and resilience.
In the last episode, two such studies were explored. We looked at the effects of counting blessings versus counting burdens. And we looked at simply saying thank you. Both studies revealed increased levels of happiness and well-being, and one even showed improved productivity in the workplace.
So, right now you may be thinking, “Oh man, he’s gonna tell me to start journaling every day in order to reap the full reward.”
And I’m here to explain.
The brilliant psychologist, Sonya Lyubomirsky, has studied positive psychology for years and she has found that the greatest effect of gratitude occurs when you count your blessings just once a week.
Now this goes against most of the prevailing thought of recording in your gratitude journal on a daily basis. (Of course, this may just be a marketing technique to sell more journals, but hey, I’m no cynic, so I’ll let that pass.)
But it turns out that daily or even three-days-a-week recording of gratefulness results in negligible, almost nonexistent, increase in happiness and positivity.
On the face of it, this is actually quite surprising, because you would think a daily activity would generate a more consistent habit resulting in a more stabilized, elevated mindset.
Turns out, that’s not the case. But why?
Well, maybe it has to do with boredom, burden, or even burnout.
You can imagine it might get a bit tedious to come up with new things to be grateful for if you had to record it every day. I mean, you could obviously do that for a week or so, but soon you’d succumb to recording rather mundane items. Or possibly, you’d just get tired of having to do this activity every single day.
For instance, you might start with things like being grateful for your health and your home, and your family and your friends, and your strengths and your spirituality.
But maybe after two weeks, you’re reporting on how you are grateful that your car starts, or you got a great parking spot, or it didn’t rain when you went to the park. (I’m not saying those things should be taken for granted, but they don’t pack the power and punch of more meaningful moments in your life.)
Whereas, taking a bit of time at the end of the week to reflect and record some of the impactful things that occurred would produce more thoughtful and meaningful recollections like making time to be with your loved ones, being able to overcome a certain challenge, having the ability to see things from a new perspective.
All of the things mentioned are worthy of gratitude and they all deserve attention, but taking time to review the most rewarding moments at the end of the week provides maximum value with a regular cadence resulting in optimal benefit.
Now, in order to get the most out of your weekly journaling, let me share with you a few daily actions that will foster an uplifting mindset and more gracious outward behaviors.
First, be kind to yourself. If you mess up, don’t beat yourself up. You wouldn’t do that to a good friend, and you shouldn’t do it to yourself. Pity parties are pathetic, and no one shows up but you. So do yourself a favor and be your own best friend when you need one.
Next, be courteous when receiving compliments. If someone says, “Nice presentation!” say “Thank you” and then shut up. Don’t ruin the compliment by downplaying your performance or pointing our how you could have done better. Be respectful of the compassion and kindness that person has just shown. Share in their joy and feel the happiness they are experiencing.
Even if the compliment is on your tie, your blouse, your dress, or your shoes; don’t say, “Oh, this old thing?” because that hurts. Someone had the courage to be nice and you just threw up all over them. Accept the moment for what it is: a chance to feel good about yourself, and, more importantly, to let the other person feel good about themselves too.
Be kind. Just smile and say, “Thank you.” Period.
While you’re basking in your gracious attitude, set aside time to pray or meditate. Some good old fashioned “we time” – time with you and your higher self – is always a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle we have to face every day. Sometimes we just need to talk with our wiser, older self, our maker, our true being, our inner teacher.
Whatever you call your go-to divine guide, make time to connect with your spiritual sense to regenerate, recharge, and revitalize.
And finally, don’t forget to be your own cheerleader. Because sometimes no one is around to provide the motivation or encouragement you so richly deserve. So, each morning as you’re going through your routine, look in the mirror and give yourself a high five. (Go ahead do it right now. You deserve it!)
And don’t be ashamed or too proud to toot your own horn when you do something awesome during the day. Even the small wins deserve a high five!
Giving yourself a high five will increase your energy, your attitude, and your drive to do it again!
Now, we can’t just hold all this gratitude in for ourselves. We need to share it with other important people in our lives, whether that is family, friends, or coworkers.
No matter who you encounter, be sure to practice the Platinum Rule. You know the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Well, the Platinum Rule is further tailored to appreciate and accommodate each individual.
Think about it this way: The Golden Rule is like buying a present for someone that YOU want for yourself. The Platinum Rule is buying the present that THEY want. So next time you want to buy a present for someone, pick something that is on THEIR list, not YOUR list.
So if we’re talking about the workplace, a present for a coworker or a group of coworkers might be bringing in doughnuts or bagels before anyone gets in, or taking the team for a celebratory lunch after a particularly difficult day or week, or presenting a gift card for extra effort, or the super-secret weapon, writing a hand-written thank you note.
Whatever you do, be sure to think about the individual or the group and what THEY would like to receive. If they enjoy doughnuts and you prefer granola bars, bring the doughnuts. Get them something on their list, not yours.
And if you can’t bear to do any of those things because you think it looks or sounds phony (or it is not in your budget), then do the one thing that is sure to be welcomed by all.
Make it a point to tie your gratitude to the day they get paid for the hard work they do for you. You may not know when payday is because you’re not living paycheck to paycheck, but some of your employees might be, and most of your employees know exactly when they get paid.
So, make that day extra special for them and offer a sincere “thank you” to let them know you care.
So how will you take time to reflect and record your weekly blessings? How will you receive compliments with respect and gratitude? And how will you ensure that others know you appreciate them and their efforts?
Life if too grand and giving to not be grateful. If you want to get the most out of life, remember to count your blessings, because…
Gratitude is the great amplifier of joy and success!