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Decades of research have shown us that gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions we can feel. It can increase our overall well-being, improve our relationships and increase our physical health.
Yet, gratitude is often overlooked as a valuable business tool. We focus on the more “practical” aspects of running a business and forget that our emotions play a huge role in our success.
In this article, we will explore the science of gratitude and how it can be used to improve your business and life.
Related: The Power of Gratitude and Appreciation
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is an emotion that occurs when we appreciate the good things in our life. It’s a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation for the positive things we have, whether they are material possessions, relationships or experiences.
In one of the most comprehensive reviews of gratitude research to date, psychologists Robert A. Emmons and Michael McCullough found that gratitude has several benefits for mental health, physical health and relationships.
As a mental health counselor, I am well aware of the mental health benefits of practicing gratitude. I have my clients keep a gratitude journal to help them develop the habit of practicing gratitude.
The scaling evidence proves that gratitude practice has numerous mental health benefits. For example, a study found that participants who wrote about things they were grateful for were more likely to report higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress. Another study reported that people who kept a gratitude journal reported less depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction and stress. People who practiced gratitude had less social anxiety and felt more confident in social situations. Gratitude can also help people with depression and anxiety.
Several studies have linked the benefits of physical health with gratitude. Ericka Rosenberg found that gratitude helps lower blood pressure in patients with heart disease. Participants who practiced gratitude regularly had fewer health complaints and felt healthier compared to those that didn’t practice gratitude.
Gratitude has been found to improve relationships as well. Research shows that couples who expressed gratitude towards each other felt more connected and closer to their partner. Grateful people also report feeling more loved and willing to help others. Grateful people are more likely to forgive their partner and less likely to hold grudges.
Related: Why Positivity Matters — and 3 Ways to Achieve It
Gratitude in the workplace
Gratitude has been found to improve job satisfaction and commitment. Employees who write things they are grateful for at work report more satisfaction in their job and are more committed to their employers. In addition, employees who are thanked by their boss have higher job satisfaction and are more likely to stay with a company.
Grateful employees are also more likely to go above and beyond in the workplace. A study of over 1000 employees found that employees who wrote their gratitudes down were more likely to report higher levels of citizenship behavior, which is doing tasks that are not part of a job description. Grateful employees are more productive and loyal.
Related: How to Balance Employee Happiness and Business Expectations
Using gratitude in your business and personal life
Given the many benefits of gratitude, it’s no surprise that it can be a helpful tool in business. After all, happy and healthy employees are more productive employees!
Gratitude positively affects your employees’ mental and physical health, which can lead to increased productivity, lower absenteeism and less workplace conflict. It also means that practicing gratitude can help you build and maintain strong relationships with your customers, clients and partners. A grateful customer is a loyal customer and a grateful partner is a committed partner.
The following are several ways you can incorporate gratitude into your business and personal life:
- Express gratitude to your employees. A little thank you can go a long way! Consider writing handwritten notes or giving small gifts to show your appreciation.
- Create a culture of gratitude. Encourage your employees to express gratitude to one another and customers.
- Give back to the community. Volunteering or donating to charity is a great way to show gratitude for what you have.
- Count your blessings. Cultivating gratitude can be as simple as taking time each day to reflect on things you’re thankful for. Counting blessings is an easy way to practice gratitude.
- Start a gratitude journal. You can use a gratitude journal to help reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Simply take a few minutes each day to write down things you’re thankful for. You may be surprised at how much this simple practice can improve your outlook on life.
- Perform acts of kindness. Helping others is a great way to feel more grateful. Whether you volunteer your time, donate to a worthy cause or just do something nice for someone, acts of kindness can make you feel good and appreciated.
- Have positive psychology. Gratitude is a core component of positive psychology, which is the scientific study of happiness and well-being. Gratitude helps us focus on the bright side of life and builds our strengths to improve our overall well-being.
- Use positive reinforcement. Use reinforcement, like rewards and recognition, to encourage desired behaviors from your employees.
Without a doubt, gratitude is a powerful emotion with the ability to improve our overall well-being. By showing appreciation for your employees and giving back to the community, you can create a positive and productive work environment. Similarly, you can become physically, emotionally, and psychologically healthier with feelings of gratitude.
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