By far, Thanksgiving is America’s favorite secular holiday. Who can argue with delicious food, quality time with family and friends, and (hopefully) a nice long weekend!? However, unless we take just a little time to fully engage with the thankfulness aspect of the holiday, we’re really selling ourselves short.
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Gratitude is a powerful concept, emotion, and value, and it can have a real and lasting impact on both your personal and professional life. In an effort to take full advantage of the opportunity this holiday provides, let’s take a look at a few specific ways that gratitude can boost your career.
1. Practicing gratitude helps us appreciate the little things, which is a bigger deal than you might think.
Research suggests that the more we have, the tougher it becomes to feel joyful because of little things. In other words, if you’re used to luxury vacations, a trip to the park might not do as much for you as it would for someone else. But, life is made up of simple pleasures, and remembering to appreciate them along the way should help you be a happier person, which certainly can’t hurt you professionally.
2. It helps you to focus on the positive.
Staying positive is an important quality for any professional to embrace as much as possible. It’s good for your team’s productivity, your reputation around the office, and even your health.
Unless you spent the ’90s under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Oprah’s gratitude journal. Arguably, the most important and beneficial part of this type of practice (recording things you’re grateful for each day) is that it directs your attention, throughout the day, toward the good, which can be pretty life-changing.
“I just made gratitude a daily priority,” said Winfrey. “I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for, and something always showed up.”
Stress can be really terrible for our health, on all kinds of levels, but focusing on gratitude can be a wonderful stress-buster. Also, grateful people are often more optimistic, and researchers have found that optimism can be linked to better immune system health. Many doctors agree that the physical and mental impact that comes from fostering an attitude of gratitude is well worth the effort.
“Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more proactive health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations,” says Robert Emmons, Psychology Professor at UC Davis.
Think about a few people you know who often express a grateful and positive attitude, even when things get tough. Next, think about another group of people you know who handle tough times the opposite way, with negativity and a lot of complaining. Now, it’s pretty easy to understand why being a member of the former group rather than the later would be good for your professional relationships, isn’t it!? Plus, it’s just a more fun way to go through life.
Self-esteem and feelings of self-worth have been linked to career success. Of course, arrogance isn’t a good thing either, but lack of self-esteem can really hold you back professionally. Taking the time to focus on all the things you’re thankful for and all of the positive things that are happening in your life will improve your self-esteem and confidence. This could help you feel more assertive at work, which could give you the strength you need to try new projects or tasks that felt intimidating previously. And that could be really great for your career.
6. You won’t be able to keep the gratitude to yourself for very long…
Once you’ve embraced a more grateful attitude, you won’t be able to hold it in for long. Soon, you’ll be expressing that thankfulness and appreciation to others, and lifting the whole office up as you go. Wouldn’t your work environment be a little more pleasant if people said “thank you” more often? Be a trend setter, and get that ball rolling. It will be good for everyone involved and for the bottom line.
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