Personal Development
Gratitude: What is it and how can you practice being grateful?

Gratitude: What is it and how can you practice being grateful?

Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

The Power of Gratitude

In a world that is constantly shifting, businesses and individuals alike can benefit from the power of gratitude. While there are many strategies to unlocking the potential of teams and individuals - such as executive coaching, creating a culture of inclusion and utilizing the latest insights - the often overlooked tool of gratitude is just as important in fostering positive growth.

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude is an emotion we express when we feel thankful for something substantial or intangible. Although it is a social norm to thank someone when they give us a gift or gesture, it is much less common to express thanks for the small, daily blessings. To truly understand the power of gratitude, we must practice it regularly.

The Benefits of Gratitude

The benefits of a sustained gratitude practice are vast: long-term and short-term psychological well-being, stronger relationships, increased optimism, better physical health, and a more productive team. Let's take a look at some of the positive effects of giving thanks:

  • Gratitude has been proven to change the brain. Research has found that those who are more grateful have increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to decision-making and learning. This activity persisted a month later, showing that the effects of gratitude are long-lasting.
  • Gratitude helps to overpower negative emotions like envy and resentment, and replaces them with positive emotions like joy and compassion.
  • A gratitude practice can have a snowball effect, gradually and steadily improving mood and behavior over time.
  • Expressing thanks has been linked to lower levels of depression. A single thoughtful appreciation can result in an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and a 35 percent reduction in depressive symptoms.
  • Gratitude has been associated with greater optimism. Studies have found that those who keep a gratitude journal experience improved levels of optimism.
  • Gratitude has been linked to better physical health, including an increased immune system, less pain, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep.
  • Showing gratitude can lead to stronger relationships and happier teams, making members feel more fulfilled and reducing the likelihood of burnout.

Moreover, leaders who actively express gratitude can create more productive teams. Research from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania showed that employees are 50 percent more efficient when their managers are thankful for their good work. Similarly, research by psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that receiving recognition and appreciation for a job well-done increases feelings of self-worth and trust within the team.

How to Show Gratitude and Reap The Benefits

To reap the many benefits of gratitude, one must practice it. Here are some simple practices to get you started:

  • Start each day with a few moments of mindfulness, focusing on what you�re grateful for and the beauty around you.
  • Reach out and thank those you care about, or surprise someone with a kind gesture.
  • Write in a gratitude journal each night focusing on your blessings and what you appreciate about yourself.
  • Celebrate successes and look at progress objectively.

By giving gratitude and focusing on the positive aspects of life, we can reap the many benefits of a powerful emotion. Gratitude can lead us to better relationships, stronger teams, and an increased sense of well-being.

Harness the Power of Gratitude for Personal and Professional Growth

Making time to be mindful and practice gratitude can be transformative for both your own life and those around you. Shiken leverages the power of gratitude to help organizations and individuals reach their full potential. Using a combination of on-demand events, live discussions, and executive coaching, Shiken provides organizations with resources to help them create motivated and high-performing workplaces. The company also actively promotes the use of gratitude within the workplace to help teams unlock their true potential.

The Benefits of a Grateful Attitude

Expressing thankfulness and helping others can have a powerful effect on our mindset and wellbeing. Gratitude has been shown to increase our motivation and may even help spur positive behaviors that lead to self-improvement. On a deeper level, it can inspire us to be kinder, more thoughtful, and more empathetic. Research has even shown that gratitude, when expressed effectively, can foster the growth of networks of good and spread the encouragement and joy it generates.

Cultivating Gratitude in Everyday Life

Although the benefits of gratitude are clear, it can be challenging to practice gratitude amid our daily lives or when feeling anxious or overwhelmed. To help, it is important to break down the concept of gratitude into two stages - acknowledging the goodness in our lives and recognizing where it stems from. Acknowledging that the goodness in our lives is often from the support and kindness of others will help us to identify specific actions to incorporate gratitude into our routine.

Tim Desmond suggests a simple exercise that can be used to gain perspective and appreciate the good things in our lives - visualize the positive aspects of your life in the present moment. Studies have also shown that engaging in activities such as meditation, exercise, and recognizing personal strengths may also help to cultivate feelings of gratitude. Ultimately, engaging with gratitude in any capacity can help to strengthen relationships with partners, families, friends, and colleagues, and bring people together in moments of shared joy and appreciation.

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful emotion with the potential to reshape our lives in meaningful ways. It can be expressed in moments of joy, contentment, and appreciation, as well as in moments of sorrow and hardship. For those striving to cultivate a more positive outlook on life, practicing gratitude can be a life-changing skill.

Gratitude is both a state and a trait; a momentary feeling and a deep-seated character trait. Unlike other emotions, it is something that can be learned and strengthened with practice. Here are some tips for deepening your practice of gratitude:

  • Each day, take a few minutes to reflect on at least three things that you are thankful for.
  • Make it part of your daily routine to identify the positive aspects of your life. This can have a major impact on improving your daily mood and the quality of your sleep.
  • Start a gratitude journal. Writing down your thoughts of gratefulness for at least 10 minutes and reading them at the end of the week can be a fulfilling exercise.

Creating and maintaining a habit of gratefulness is beneficial to our mental health, and will also carry over into our social lives, allowing us to develop closer, more meaningful relationships.

Learning to Adapt—Part 2 - Finding Appreciation in Adversity

2020 has brought substantial and often unexpected changes to our lives. While it is normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated, it is possible to look for the goodness and beauty in tough times and use it to find a sense of contentment.

Research suggests that cultivating an attitude of gratitude has a positive effect on the brain, stimulating areas responsible for morality and positive emotions. Practicing thankfulness not only helps us to appreciate life’s little joys, but it also equips us to better weather the storms of life.

Take the time to actively express your appreciation for the people around you. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture; often, a meaningful look, a heartfelt note, or a small gift or favor will suffice. Concentrate on the intention behind the gesture, and savor the feeling of connection and appreciation.

Meditation can also be useful for developing an attitude of gratitude. Mindful meditation techniques such as love and kindness meditation can help us to view the world through a wider lens, reduce negative emotions, and increase feelings of contentment.

Developing an attitude of gratitude is an ongoing process that requires patience and dedication. However, by taking the time to practice gratitude, we can reap the rewards of a more positive outlook on life and create deeper connections to ourselves and others.

Join Shiken For FREE

AI-powered learning tools. Create, relax, learn.

Gumbo Study Buddy

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime