Gratitude: The Unexpected Productivity Booster
Gratitude is an attitude, a response to being thankful for things and people in your life. Psychologists have long held the belief that gratitude is closely linked to happiness and feelings of positivity. But, recent studies suggest that expressing gratitude can benefit other areas of life, including our working relationships and our ability to work more creatively and productively.
So, what are you grateful for? Family? Your job? Technology? Sunshine? Good friends? There are plenty of things to be grateful for in life, but, when was the last time you actually expressed that gratitude? To benefit from gratitude, you need to be practicing thankfulness more than once a year on Thanksgiving.
So, what is gratitude, how does it help us become more productive, and how do we express our gratitude every day to reap its benefits?
What Is Gratitude?
The dictionary definition of gratitude is “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” But gratitude is more than just a feeling. It’s a positive emotion and a core virtue that lets us appreciate things we have in our life that we often take for granted, such as a roof over our heads, close family, or food on the table. You can even feel gratitude for the small things like having a fast internet connection, drinking a strong coffee, or the roads being less congested on your way to an appointment.
Instead of focusing on what’s lacking or what needs to be done, gratitude focuses on the things you already have or what you’ve already achieved. And, when practiced on a daily basis, gratitude can become a way of living your life more positively.
Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude doesn’t only improve your mood for the better. In addition to making you happier, being grateful also benefits your overall well-being.
Expressing gratitude is great for mental health and it can counter feelings of stress and anxiety. There’s also a behavioral shift that occurs when you’re thankful for what you have, as grateful people are more inclined to exercise, eat better, and drink less alcohol.
And the benefits don’t end there. Sleep patterns improve, and your immune system is given a boost, both of which are great for your physical health and well-being. Studies also suggest practicing gratitude is linked to lower blood pressure and lower levels of bad cholesterol.
It’s not just you who benefits from your gratitude. When expressed outwardly by thanking people for doing a good job or for their support, it also gives them a positive mental boost, thereby increasing their feeling of self-worth. It also helps nurture relationships, bringing us closer to partners and other people around us.
Being Grateful Benefits Your Working Practices
So, how do all these benefits help in a working environment?
If focusing on the positives in life helps reduce stress levels, boost physical health and improve sleep patterns, it’s only natural that you feel better about yourself when you express gratitude. When you’re healthy and less fatigued, your focus improves, letting you approach your working day with more vigor.
Instead of stressing about your to-do list, you’ll be more clear-headed and practical in your planning and the way you approach tasks. Being grateful for each small win you’ve had before even beginning your working day sets you up to achieve more throughout the day, ultimately resulting in greater productivity.
Stress has a negative effect on creativity, making us more rigid in our thinking and more likely to stick to the familiar rather than coming up with new, more innovative ideas. Expressing gratitude promotes positivity, helping reduce stress levels, which allows you to be more creative and think outside the box.
Appreciation and gratitude are powerful emotions that go a long way to improving romantic partnerships. When couples voice their thankfulness to each other regularly, they feel more satisfaction in their relationship and a greater connection.
In the same vein, working relationships can also benefit from expressed gratitude. Typically, the relationship we have with coworkers is nowhere near as strong as romantic connections. However, when teammates show their appreciation for each other, they help reduce team-wide stress, leading to better collaborations and improved teamwork.
Research also suggests that managers who express gratitude to their team cultivate a more open environment where employees are responsive, voice their opinions, and are more likely to make creative suggestions. And, when staff feels appreciated, they’re more motivated to work which can even lead to an increase in productivity by up to 50%.
So, whether it’s a personal or work relationship, showing gratitude to others contributes to greater creativity, better teamwork, and improved productivity.
How to Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Life
It’s easy to think about what’s lacking in your personal life and what needs to be accomplished in your working life. Practicing gratitude is simply a change of mindset, focusing on acknowledging what you already have and what you’ve already achieved.
There are private ways to express thankfulness and ways to voice or show your thanks to others. Take a few minutes out of your day to do so, and you’ll have a greater sense of job satisfaction and help boost the productivity and creativity of both yourself and your colleagues.
Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
Spending just a few minutes every day jotting down what you’re thankful for can boost your overall well-being by around 10%. Get into the habit of writing in a gratitude journal every night, making a note of five things, events from the day, or people you’re grateful for.
It can be as simple as “I’m grateful that the sun shone today” or “I’m glad my friend sent me a message.” Once you start, you’ll become more aware of the small things that happen during the day that make you feel thankful.
Although you can journal at any time during the day, doing so before bed could also improve your sleep quality by up to 25%.
Be Thankful for Small Wins
We all have challenging days when nothing seems to go right. Even on those tough days, you’ll still be able to find positives. Did you send an email or schedule a meeting? Or, maybe you took a lunch break or got started on a tricky assignment. Identifying the small wins can be as rewarding as being grateful for the big achievements.
Show Your Gratitude
Are you grateful your mom picked up the kids after school? Thankful for the friend who bought round some soup when you felt poorly? Appreciative of a colleague who helped you put together a presentation? Whether it's a friend, relative, coworker, or neighbor, it’s time to say thank you.
It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture with flowers or gifts. Write them a thank you note or email. Putting down in words what they did and expressing your gratitude will help you relive the experience and make the recipient feel appreciated and valued. Even a sticky note left on a colleague's computer or a simple text can have the same positive effects.
Be Grateful Every Day
Practicing gratitude is a way of life, a chance to focus on the positives rather than reflecting on the negatives. Being thankful for what and who you already have will reward you with a happier, less stressful life. And, by expressing gratitude to the people around you, you’ll also be passing on positivity to make them feel more appreciated.
There’s no perfect way to practice gratitude. What’s important is to be aware of what you’re grateful for in life and express your thanks. Experiencing the positive emotions and life satisfaction that comes with gratitude, you see a shift in your attitude and working practices that should lead to you being more creative, motivated, and much more productive.