If I could offer you a magic potion that would make you happier, healthier, more optimistic and more productive, and tell you that potion would cost nothing and will require very little effort to use, would you be interested?
Let me ask the question differently.
If this potion existed would you want some?
Of course you would! Unfortunately, I don't have a potion that will do these things. But each of us has something even better than a potion that will do all of those things and more...
Science tells us that an "attitude of gratitude" is a good health choice. Being more grateful more often makes us happier and more optimistic. But gratitude also adds to the bottom line - in very real ways. And the best news about gratitude is that it requires little time and no money.
Here are five reasons gratitude improves your productivity and results:
Gratitude attracts what we want. The universal law of attraction says that we will attract into our life the things we think about and focus on. Since this is true, wouldn't you want more of what you are thankful for? (I think I know the answer to that!) Remember that when you are consciously aware of your blessings, and are grateful for them, you are focusing more clearly on what you do want in your life - and are attracting more of those things into your life.
Gratitude improves relationships. We learn the importance of saying "thank you" as little children. We are taught that habit because it is "good manners." This childhood lesson is extremely powerful. Think about those people that you know who are most appreciative of you - and let you know it. How do you feel about them? Does their appreciation positively impact your relationship with them? Of course it does! Be grateful for people, their contributions, their talents and their actions - and make sure you let them know how you feel.
Gratitude reduces negativity. It is hard to be negative about your situation when you are thinking about things for which you are grateful. One of the fastest ways to improve your mood or outlook is to count your blessings.
Gratitude improves problem solving skills. Too often we look at problem solving with a very jaded view. "Something is wrong. We have barriers in our way. Then, we have to put in effort to fix it." Conversely, when we think about what we are grateful for we open our minds up to new possibilities and connections. We also enter a problem solving situation with a perspective of improvement and opportunity rather than challenge or issue.
Gratitude helps us learn. Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Behind every problem lies an opportunity. Being grateful for our situation - even if we don't like everything about it - allows us to be thankful for the opportunity to learn something new.
That's Fine, But How?
At this point you may be thinking, OK, sounds great, but how can I really be more grateful, more often?
It's really very easy.
Let's practice right now.
1. Make a list of five things you are grateful for right now. These can be big things (like your family) or little things (like the fact that someone held the door open for you this morning). This can be a mental list or written down. Do it now.
2. Reflect on your list and allow yourself to feel good about these things.
3. If there is a person you can thank or show your appreciation to, do that now too (a quick call or email is a good start!).
You can do this exercise anytime, and you don't have to stop at five things. In fact, it is a great idea to keep a running list in your Journal, planner or notebook - this way you can return to your list anytime you wish, reinforcing your gratitude.
But at any moment you can make a list, bask in those thoughts, and share that thankfulness with others.
You've probably thought of being thankful as a good thing to do or the right thing to do. But now hopefully you see it can be even more powerful than "right."
Gratitude is an attitude. Gratitude is a choice. And gratitude is a habit. When we consciously practice being grateful for the people, situations and resources around us we begin to attract better relationships and results. The habit will be strengthened as you make the choice each day.