I feel that every year, Thanksgiving gets less and less attention. This year, retailers had Christmas on display before Halloween. I think we all need more focus on gratitude. Why? Because focusing on gratitude is good for us. Spending time giving thanks and cultivating feelings of gratitude promotes mental health and stronger relationships.
Consider how expressing gratitude could improve your business relationships.
Do you have employees who work hard and go the extra mile for your customers? What about customers who are loyal to you through the years and have helped you grow your business? Vendors who are reliable and always come through when you need them? Do you have a spouse, children or parents who’s love and support you count on?
Small acts of gratitude can improve all our interpersonal relationships. Things like graciously accepting a compliment and saying thank you or maybe even sending a thank you note will improve our relationships with customers, staff, friends and family.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
How can we practice thanksgiving every day? One of my favorites is journaling. A gratitude journal can be as simple keeping a small notebook by your bed and jotting down, before you go to sleep, a few bullet points listing things you are grateful for.
For the skeptics among us, this not just some wishy-washy feel good thing. There is scientific evidence that adopting an attitude of gratitude before bed promotes better sleep. In addition to better sleep, there are other significant benefits to expressing gratitude. As we shift our thoughts from that which we lack and focus on what we already have, we experience lower stress and greater feelings of wellbeing.
Gratitude has other health benefits, such as lowering stress. Even people who experience high levels of stress, like those related to post traumatic stress disorder, experience positive results through practicing gratitude. Gratitude is the perfect treatment. The price is right -it’s free, and there are no negative side effects.
A focus on gratitude can raise self-esteem. Modern life seems designed to make us feel that we are inadequate, that there is never enough, that we are not enough. Many times, we feel that we don’t have as much as our peers, so we feel that there is something wrong with us and that we are somehow lacking. When we practice gratitude, we stop the negative comparisons and start to enjoy what we already have.
“Holiday blues” are widespread in our culture. People find holidays, particularly Christmas, stressful and even depressing. That’s because many of us have high expectations of the happiness that the holiday will bring, only to be disappointed. Even if we do get what we want for Christmas, we are still often left with an “is that all there is” feeling.
Would you like to have a happier, more relaxed and satisfying holiday season?
Instead of focusing on what you will get, think about what you already have. If you have friends and family to share the holidays with, a refrigerator stocked with holiday fare and a safe, comfortable home, your sense of gratitude should be profound. When you consider what you really need in the physical sense, chances are you already have far more than what’s needed for survival.
Once we realize that, the urge to do more and have more can be put in better perspective. This is not to say we should reach for higher levels of achievement. The better physical and mental health that comes from experiencing gratitude energizes us. From a place of gratitude, we can dedicate ourselves full to that which really matters and reach even higher levels of success and abundance.
In fact, Zig Ziglar, one of the most widely regarded motivational speakers in the 20th century, believed that the more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
As you celebrate the abundance around you, be on the lookout on ways to serve those in your community who are not so fortunate. By reaching out in service, we get to express the gratitude that can heal us and make us better human beings.
What will you do to express gratitude? How will you be of service to the less fortunate in your community?