Gratitude is a potent force. It has the power to improve your health, happiness, and success. It builds strong relationships. I want to show you the good that comes from gratitude – personally, relationally, and professionally – and give you six examples of how and why you should make it a priority.
Gratitude is good for you
Let’s start by taking a look at what science reveals about the impact gratitude has. A study from 2008, published in the Oxford University Press journal, Cerebral Cortex, leveraged MRI scan technology to analyze the neural basis of various emotional states and their connection to social values. When exploring gratitude, there was an unmistakable correlation between the brain’s reward pathways and feelings of gratitude.
Brain Balance boiled it down in this article, “In short, gratitude can boost neurotransmitter serotonin and activate the brain stem to produce dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s pleasure chemical. The more we think positive, grateful thoughts, the healthier and happier we feel.” Gratitude equals dopamine. Got it!
But you didn’t need a scientific study to tell you that gratefulness makes you feel better – we’ve all experienced it and know it intrinsically. Without question, gratitude is good for you. By showing gratitude to someone else you are giving yourself a boost and rewiring your brain to be happier.
Gratitude and relationships
Of course, the real reason you show gratitude isn’t to help yourself – at least it shouldn’t be the main driver. Rather, showing genuine gratitude is an expression of your thankfulness for someone else. You value them, or they’ve done something for you, and you want to say ‘thank you.’
“Strong relationships are reciprocal and mutually beneficial, and gratitude needs to be baked in at a core level.”
Strong relationships are reciprocal and mutually beneficial, and gratitude needs to be baked in at a core level. Robert A. Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis put it like this, “Gratitude is the moral cement, the all-purpose glue, the emotional spackle that squeezes into the cracks between people, strengthening and solidifying these relationships. Without gratitude, we’d be in relational ruin. Organizations, families, societies would crumble.”
It really is that important.
Gratitude and business success
With things like the fabric of society hanging in the balance – it begs the question – why isn’t gratitude more of a focus when it comes to business? Sure, we’ve all received swag gifts at trade shows (how many logoed pens do you have in your possession right now?) and generic gift baskets sent at the holidays (that end up in the break room and only hope to cause the faintest stir of delight). Those are partially founded in the concept of gratitude, but they fall woefully short.
Real gratitude is expressed through personalized thoughts and actions – not generic displays of ‘corporate gifting’. Real gratitude takes the form of a delivery meal to a contact that is sick, or a copy of your favorite children’s book to the contact that is raising a young child. It’s thoughtful, relevant, personal – it shows that you actually care about them – and it’s not about giving them ‘stuff’ with your logo on it…
To build success in business, we need to build better relationships. Both science and common sense are clear – gratitude builds stronger relationships. if you want to achieve a higher level of success in your business – literally any business – use gratitude!
Here are six tips and benefits I’ve gathered, backed by psychology research, to encourage you to practice gratitude and ultimately find more business success:
- Appreciate the good things in your life right now. Stop, just for a moment… there it is… now say ‘thanks’ for it. Now you’re in the gratitude mindset. Let’s go!
- Practice gratitude. It doesn’t necessarily come naturally to everyone, but we can always practice and learn. “The single strength that correlates the most with happiness is gratitude”, Martin Seligman.
- Did you know practicing gratitude increases your likelihood of engaging in exercise, healthy eating, and other behaviors tied to well-being? There’s even science to support that positive, grateful people have stronger immune systems and lower risk rates for heart disease. Grateful people are healthier people.
- Gratitude helps you build more closely bonded relationships – we know that people who regularly express gratitude feel more positive about each other – and they’re more likely to be open and honest about what’s on their minds, which strengthens relationships even further. This benefit is a key part of developing our professional relationships and networks that are so critical to our career success and business growth. Everyone likes to work with someone they like and we all like someone who appreciates us.
- Gratitude creates a ripple effect in the workplace shown to improve business outcomes. Robert Cialdini discusses in Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, that we are innately wired to respond positively to gestures of appreciation – even if we didn’t request or want them. It’s instinctive. These expressions don’t need to be extravagant – they can be as simple as saying “Thank You.” When we leverage this influence with our professional relationships the results directly boost our success.
- Create more engaged employees. Studies show that employees who are intentionally and sincerely thanked for their efforts work significantly more intensely than they would otherwise, they also report higher rates of job satisfaction, and employee recognition/gratitude continues to be one of the best ways to keep people from quitting.
The benefits related to a personal and professional life that incorporates gratitude are myriad. Hopefully, these six have convinced you to dig deeper and find additional ways to share your gratitude with others – particularly your employees, business partners, and clients/customers. I think everyone can agree that the business world needs a whole lot more gratitude in it. Let’s all be a part of that solution and start sharing more thoughtful and personalized gratitude and appreciation this holiday season!
Brendan Kamm is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thnks, the digital gratitude platform and mobile app that enables sales and customer teams to build stronger business relationships through gratitude. Powering efficient, personalized, and thoughtful appreciation in the workplace, more than 20,000 Thnks are sent every single week through the company’s platform, which is used by more than 7,500 teams.
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