For last week’s Feel Good Friday, we discussed safe methods for celebrating Thanksgiving. This week, we will discuss the meaning of the holiday… gratitude.
Gratitude can be defined as a celebration of the good in your life and relationships with others. Appreciation is a stepping stone leading into gratefulness, and you might be thinking: “Wait, aren’t they the same thing?” These two terms, although similar, can be differentiated by: appreciation being an expression or feeling of thankfulness that doesn’t require an interaction with others, while gratitude is a relational state of feeling thankful toward others. Curious to know how grateful you are in this moment? Take this quick quiz.
Take a minute to reflect on all the things you have accomplished today. It feels great to give yourself credit and acknowledge all the things you do. Being grateful is a decision you make daily, which may be hard when you’re stressed and going through difficult times. Choosing to be grateful is a skill you cultivate and begins with altering your mindset. You can start making a positive shift in your thinking by developing these habits to help you appreciate all the good things in your life.
Stating positive affirmations daily: Affirmations change your thought patterns and behavior by repeating a statement to yourself as true. Start the day by saying, “Today is going to be a great day, I will overcome all obstacles because today is going to be a great day.” If challenges or tough situations arise, repeat this or other affirmations to yourself again. Daily affirmations, if practiced for at least two weeks, will change your attitude. You’ll be surprised how much your life starts to align with what you are affirming.
Gratitude journaling: Daily journaling is a great way to make time in your day for daily reflection. Start by writing all the good things in your life by making a list of simple things or “small stuff,” such as having a comfy bed to sleep in, hot water to bathe in or a stocked panty. This practice prompts you to take notice of all the things you have that others may not. With continued practice, you will begin to recognize the daily small wins in life such as getting the best parking spot.
The best way to acknowledge positive actions from others is by recognition. Remember, appreciation comes directly from the feelings you get from a positive experience. Recognition lets others know how much you value their work or actions. Just think about all the times you’ve been told, “This couldn’t have been done without you.” It feels great to hear how valued and appreciated you are. Giving recognition might make you feel uncomfortable at first, but push yourself to express those “thank-you’s.” If not, you’ll miss the opportunity to make an impact in people’s lives. Giving recognition can be as simple as a small thank you card or a quick high-five, but it is also important to demonstrate authenticity. Below are a few ways to bring recognition into your workplace.
Quality vs. quantity: Genuine recognition shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter approach. If you give everyone a candy bar for every occasion, the significance of that recognition is diminished. Recognition should be in alignment with the receptivity of an individual. According to “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Gary Chapman and Paul White, people respond to different types of appreciation. A few examples are: Words of Affirmation: giving verbal praise, Quality Time: scheduling a one-on-one lunch, Receiving Gifts: giving gift cards, Acts of Service: offering to complete tasks and Appropriate Physical Touch: giving high-fives (which have become “air high-fives” during the pandemic). Being appreciated in the way that’s best for you and others makes you feel more engaged with your teams and increases productivity.
Celebrate the small wins: Giving recognition when you feel appreciation will inspire others to follow your lead. Recognizing the small everyday moments is just as important. You go into work and you are thankful for a fresh pot of coffee that has just been brewed and as your day continues, your appreciation grows when you observe coworkers stocking full reams of paper in the printer. You give recognition to your co-workers by buying them lunch and thanking them for all they do. You become grateful for their presence at the office and how important they are to you every workday.
Once you begin to appreciate all the little things and give recognition to those who make life better, you will naturally step into the state of gratitude. Gratitude inspires you to do more for yourself and society. The big problems of the world don’t seem so bad and you feel happier with your life in the present moment. Negative words, thoughts and traits will naturally dissipate when you actively work on cultivating gratitude. Life is short; why not spend the time celebrating all the good in it.