Gratitude enhances health and work performance
When we wish to reduce stress and anxiety and increase work performance, saying words of gratitude is a good place to start. The act of noting what we have and how we are connected to others switches off the body’s scanning for problems. Instead of worrying about what we don’t have, the act of giving thanks tells the body and the mind that in some parts of our life at least we are supported. The body-mind reacts by relaxing its guard increasing its ability to think more broadly and be open to new ideas.
Gratitude enhances positive change four ways
Fritz and others note that gratitude induces an environment conducive for positive change in four ways:
- Gratitude “leads people to feel more connected to others and promotes relationships satisfaction and mutually responsive behaviours” which in turn “lead individuals to feel supported …in their efforts to change.”
- It “leads to elevation, an emotion associated with feeling uplifted by the kind and moral acts of others, and inspired to emulate them.” Expressing thanks for the help of someone who has enabled efforts may lead to that same behaviour being mirrored by the recipients.
- It “engenders humble feelings, as one necessarily must acknowledge that one has obtained a desired outcome due to the actions of another”. Such humility can reduce defensiveness and foster acceptance of other viewpoints. For leaders seeking to harness collective intelligence of your group, this aspect is especially powerful.
- “Expressing gratitude to a benefactor elicits feelings of indebtedness [ which ] may motivate individuals to improve themselves, in order to prove worthy of their benefactor’s help.”
As we know, a positive change environment is essential for responding quickly to changing conditions, though fearless speakers of gratitude use it for its pleasurable sensations as much or more than any other reason.
Gratitude increases collective intelligence
Giving thanks shows that no act we take is ever a solo endeavour, dimming the fear of taking risks and the need to prove oneself better than others as both risk reward is shared. Result? Gratitude encourages comity and the growth and implementation of new ways of thinking.
Making gratitude a daily work practise
Making gratitude an everyday work practise is easy. At the start of each meeting, elicit one or more comments about how an attendee was helped to get results. Such statements need not be about those in attendance, or even the task at hand (although directing attention to internal support can reduce silos and enhance a culture of helping). It is enough that the minds of the speakers and listeners are directed to acts that warrant thanks. Even getting to work on time requires the efforts of thousands of people – those involved in creating the vehicles, shoe leather, paths and roadways that got you and your colleagues to work.
Hurdles to implementation
For some people the act of thanking others may feel uncomfortable as we have been taught by social media, our schooling, as well as marketing and a myriad of other methods that to be competitive and self reliant is to be lauded. Be sensitive to this and use your reaction to build acceptance, connectedness and trust.
Benefits for anxiety
Hearing and saying gratitude statements can be boons for inherently anxious persons as they will come to understand that everything in life is the result of many people, things and decisions. Never is one person solely responsible for the benefit or loss. No one is ever alone.
By inculcating gratitude into your firm you will in time hear more laughter, and feel the gains of greater self confidence and the collective intelligence you are nurturing.
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Jennifer is a business and executive coach who helps leaders turn strategy into results using the wisdom of the heart. To find out how she can help you, call +61 439 520 182 or email.