During the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, society reminds itself to be grateful. But what about those other 11 months of the year?
The art of positive thinking can be relatively difficult to keep up with. Several months ago, I stumbled upon a quote that helped me realize I needed something more than a positive attitude to help me through my disengagement at work:
“While being optimistic reduces stress, trying to be optimistic can increase it. The notion that positive thinking is correlated with good health puts enormous pressure on people to cleave to beliefs that they don’t actually trust.” – Andrew Solomon
Saying to yourself, “I’m going to have a positive attitude and be an optimist,” is so unrealistic in today’s world. But there is hope. And it lies in practicing gratitude. Scientists have even confirmed that practicing gratitude contributes to our well-being. And to truly be able to truly practice gratitude and make a difference in your life, you must be able to practice both personally and professionally.
I can wake up each day and look around my apartment and count my blessings. I can see beautiful things on my drive to work and truly appreciate them. But it can be tough – especially if workplace culture doesn’t pay attention to gratitude – to carry that through once I get to work.
Here are a few ways you can start to encourage a grateful culture:
Say thank you. Think about it. When was the last time you actually thanked a colleague or one of your team members? I’m not talking about thanking her for grabbing your pages off the copier. Truly thanking her for being a great coworker. For all of her amazingly intelligent contributions. For being so flexible when needs arise. Well start doing it.
Practice what you preach. When I started my new job, I was initially really freaked out that all of my teammates and my bosses thanked each other for things. Announcing during team meetings how thankful they were to have a supportive team. Buying everyone coffee after a long, intense meeting. Taking on an extra task to ease someone else’s day. My boss is so good about being grateful. Now, I am fully integrated with this way of life and want to continue to recognize and thank my teammates so that they can feel as good as I do when they thank me.
Thank those who never get thanked. Each and every day, I make sure to thank those who have thankless jobs. The facilities staff, the cafeteria staff, and of course the woman who pulls the Monday morning sales reports – each of these folks are the reason that the business runs smoothly so that I can do my job and be comfortable while I’m doing it. Without them, things wouldn’t feel as good. And it is so important to me to recognize that.
Be real. Fake gratitude is insulting. Don’t walk around thanking people for coming to work today. Thank them for doing things that they don’t have to do. Thank them for the spirit and light that they bring to your day. And just smile at them when you see them coming into work.
How are you practicing gratitude in your workplace? Does your workplace culture breed gratitude or stifle it? Tell us in the comments!