This came to me in an email yesterday from Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson at Worth Ethic. They wrote a great book called the Alpha Male Syndrome a few years back. I highly recommend it. I was going to echo some of the sentiments outlined in the email, but thought it was better to just quote it in it's entirety.
Thanksgiving often brings to mind a big turkey dinner and some degree of gluttony. Yet the holiday originated as a reminder that, even in austere times, we have much to be grateful for.
If we think about gratitude at all, it usually has personal, spiritual or religious overtones, and yet it is a powerful choice we can bring to our work. Choosing gratitude has the power to change our mindset and alter our perspective and even important decisions.
At a time of economic downturn and downsizing, many of us have been asked to expand our responsibilities and workload, which often generates resentment and frustration. Seeing this as an opportunity for gratitude and appreciation may seem contradictory and even illogical. However, numerous studies have documented the positive emotional, physiological and cognitive benefits of positively framing circumstances, and choosing an attitude of gratitude is a significant way to immediately shift into a more optimistic state of mind. Plus, gratitude is infectious, often eliciting greater collaboration and productivity from your entire team.
Gratitude also has remarkable health benefits. UCLA medical school professor Dr. Steve Cole found that recipients of organ transplants who kept "gratitude journals" had better vitality, physical health and mental health than patients whose journals focused on routine daily concerns.
If you want to experience the power of gratitude in unlocking creativity and opening up perspectives:
- Choose to replace resentment and frustration with gratitude and appreciation. For example, if a work project you're very invested in is cancelled or significantly reduced in scope, catch yourself wishing things were different and shift your focus to a more positive mindset. This may sound simplistic and even naïve, and yet recent functional brain studies document how such thinking can enhance your creativity, memory and overall effectiveness, both in the moment and longer term.
- Whatever situation you're in, think of three things to be grateful for. For example, even if your role has changed in the downturn and you now have a larger workload and reduced compensation, you can feel grateful that you are working with people who you respect and that you are still a valued member of your organization.
- Even though outcomes may appear bleak at present, imagine three positive future outcomes. Many autobiographies confirm that unforeseen opportunities and even unexpected success have arisen from the more dire circumstances. Research documents the extraordinary impact of optimism and hopefulness in opening up our minds so that we can see and act on possibilities.
Frequently expressing your gratitude is the difference between a good idea and having a truly positive impact. When you speak your gratitude to others, you multiply the impact. We have found in coaching executives that gratitude is often a catalyst that enhances the impact of an entire team.
Kate & Eddie
Worth Ethic Corporation