Being grateful can help your business and even your health.
Expressing gratitude isn’t just for the warm and fuzzies, or to demonstrate good manners, says Deborah Norville, TV journalist and author of Thank You Power: Making the Science of Gratitude Work for You. Deliberately weaving gratitude into your everyday life can help with both personal happiness and business success, she says.
Here’s how to put the science of gratitude to work for you and your team:
1. Focus on what’s right. “Things go better when you focus on what’s working, instead of focusing on what’s going wrong,” says Norville. “We’ve all got problems, but we’ve all got blessings too.”
2. Write it down. Counting those blessings brings a long list of measurable benefits. A study at the U.C. Davis Medical Center found that keeping a “gratitude journal” (listing three to five things you feel grateful for each day) resulted in participants feeling more optimistic, creative, alert, tolerant and resilient. Their health improved too (see box).
3. Specify why and who. As you write down events that brought a lift to your day, document why this event was good for your life and who played a role, Norville suggests. Positive emotions activate the brain’s dopamine receptors, which boosts the ability to make cognitive connections, she adds. “When you feel grateful, you actually make better decisions, and you can see patterns and solutions that eluded you before,” she says.
4. Elevate your mood. If feeling grateful seems difficult, find just one positive thing and focus your attention on it. “When you focus on one positive thing, it elevates your mood and your self-esteem, and opens your mind to think of other positive things,” says Norville.
5. Express your gratitude. Thank-yous to your team go a long way. “When people feel appreciated, they go the extra mile for you when they don’t have to,” says Norville. For example, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that when the director of a fundraising call center thanked a group of employees for their help, they made 50% more calls than a group that wasn’t thanked.
6. Foster appreciation. Set up message boards or other systems to encourage your team. The givers may benefit even more than the receivers, points out Norville. “One study found that those who got a thank-you note were delighted and felt good for one to two weeks … but those who had expressed their long-overdue gratitude experienced a positive frame of mind for up to six months!” she says.
An attitude of gratitude ripples out to benefit everyone in your practice—team members, clients and patients alike. “A little piece of gratitude extended by you could help your practice grow and improve your bottom line,” says Norville. “Gratitude is a tool that you can use to prime your brain so that you can position your business to be at its most effective.”
What Good Is Gratitude?
Practicing gratitude has been found to produce:
- 41% lower risk of depression in at-risk patients
- 23% lower levels of stress hormones (cortisol)
- 10% improvement in sleep quality
- 16% lower diastolic blood pressure
- 10% lower systolic blood pressure
Source: U.C. Davis Medical Center