According to leadership coach Randy Gravitt: “When a workplace prioritizes gratitude, it has been shown to reduce employee illness and stress, and make your business 12 times more likely to surpass competitors!"
If your company doesn’t promote gratitude as a way to prevent employee burnout, you can lead the charge. Here are five ways to work gratitude into your work life:
1. Write it out.
Write down one to three things you are grateful for every day. You can make this as basic as a list (e.g., “the sunshine, my dog, I got paid”) or as detailed as a journal narrative (e.g., “After three days of rain, I’m so grateful for the sunshine”). If you have room, you could write each item on a sticky note then hang them on a wall, or you could get a poster board and some magazines and make a gratitude collage. When you want someone to have a permanent token from you, write a thank you note (e.g., send a thank you email to a former manager expressing how grateful you are for all she taught you). The key is consistency. Make daily deposits in a gratitude bank so the next time you feel stressed out, you’ll have plenty of reminders to withdraw.
2. Say it out loud.
Gratitude is a feeling; thankfulness is its expression. Take opportunities to thank the people in your life. Thank a stranger for insisting you go before her in line at the grocery because she has a cart full of items and you only have three. Thank a coworker for bringing you lunch when he went out to pick up his. Thank your mom for giving you birth. Gratitude is like a cold; it’s contagious. You can infect the people around you.
3. Post it on social media.
Use technology to your gratitude advantage. Text your friend a thank you for forwarding that article to you. Post on the Facebook page of the local garage whose customer service went above and beyond what you paid for the car repair. FaceTime your partner to say how grateful you are they did your laundry this week while you met a work deadline.
4. Frame it.
When faced with a problem, frame it in your mind as a challenge to be grateful for. Obstacles at work can offer opportunities to stand out. Try stating the challenge in positive language. For example, if you are assigned a difficult client, tell yourself: “I’m grateful my manager trusts me to calm this person down and provide him with our best customer service. Negotiating with him through this conflict will strengthen our relationship. After solving this problem, I’ll document it for my next performance review.”
The irony of volunteering is that you get just as much out of the experience as the one you’re helping. Whether it’s raking leaves out of your neighbor’s yard, sorting donations at your local YWCA or helping at risk teens with homework at your local library, helping someone else organically brings gratitude top of mind.
Everything counts. There’s nothing too small to be grateful for. On days when you’re feeling down, maybe the only thing you can find to be grateful for is your next breath. That’s okay. Pull out that list, journal, or go to your sticky note wall and relive your past gratitude. Let it fuel you to shine instead of burn out.
Mardi has been compared to the C.U.L.A. Advisor in “Legally Blonde,” which she takes as a compliment. She loves talking about all things communication, development, and relationships. Visit her at www.mardihumphreys.com.