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How to Use Gratitude to Be More Successful at Work

Recent research shows that gratitude can make us happier and healthier, even boosting mental health over time. But can it improve your career?
gratitude
Kawin Harasai/Unsplash

There’s evidence to support the idea that gratitude can make you more successful at work and happier in your job. One study from UCLA and the University of Miami showed that participants who wrote down the things that made them grateful were more optimistic and missed fewer days of work.

Other research has shown that gratitude can improve physical health, reducing stress and improving sleep and energy levels.

Want to use the power of gratitude to boost your career? Try these strategies:

Write It Down

Whether you write daily or weekly, keeping a record of the things that make you most grateful will help you really appreciate the good things in your life. The act of writing helps make it stick — and the permanence of print lets you look back on previous entries and remember that things aren’t as bad as they sometimes seem.

Build In Reminders

At SmartBrief, author and consultant Susan Fowler talks about how she brought her gratitude practice into her everyday communications at work:

After reading some of the initial research on the power of gratitude over a decade ago, I began incorporating little triggers into my everyday life to stimulate my experience of gratitude. For example, I upgraded my signature to “With gratitude, Susan Fowler.” I discovered that writing an email containing negative, controversial or critical comments rang hollow and inauthentic as I typed my “With gratitude” signature. That realization still motivates me to completely rewrite the email to express myself using more constructive language. Writing “With gratitude” dozens of times a day adds up to a day of gratitude.

If that sign-off isn’t your style, consider including it in the rough draft of your messages to colleagues — and then deleting. The reminder works just as well, whether or not your coworkers ever see it.

Use It as Motivation

Gratitude can also help you to be more motivated. How? Instead of looking at your to-do list as a series of onerous tasks, experiment with thinking of it as a list of opportunities.

“The thing to realise and understand is that often in sport the only thing that keeps a competitor going is their heart – and if your heart isn’t in something, you’ll eventually give up,” says Australian performance consultant Jeffrey Hodges at Sportsmind. “Communicating with yourself using negative motivation language is a sure way to lose heart, and you’re too good for that.”

Practice replacing “I have to XYZ” with “I get to do XYZ.” You might be surprised at what a difference that small change in phrasing can make.

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Tell Us What You Think

Do you have tips on being more grateful? We want to hear them. Share your wisdom in the comments or come talk to us on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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