Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
We’ve all heard the saying, “Be grateful for what you have.” In this day and age, where quite a few of us have more than we need, you would think more people would wake up and appreciate the great splendor of the world. But, unfortunately, we don’t.
Many times when something good happens we say, “I am so lucky and grateful for this blessing in my life.” But, if one small bad thing happens 20 minutes later a lot of us quickly forget about that blessing. Humans tend to gravitate towards the negative.
That’s where gratitude comes in. Gratitude is an extremely powerful feeling that leaves a lasting impact on not only your life, but the lives of others as well. But, as much as gratitude is a feeling, it is also a practice. You really do have to practice feeling grateful for things. You woke up this morning in a comfortable bed? Incredible! You have gas in your car? Miraculous!
It’s also important to remember that negative things do happen and we should feel grateful towards those things as well, even if at the time they seem awful. It’s all about perspective.
When we practice gratitude it shines through in every aspect of our lives, especially work. Considering we spend most of our days at work, expressing gratitude on the job is extremely important. Let’s take a look at some ways gratitude can boost your morale at work.
1. Practicing gratitude helps you focus on the positive.
I wake up every morning and write in my Five Minute Journal. The journal is a constant reminder for me to focus on things for which I’m grateful, as well as a few things that would make my day really great. Some days, I’m so tired that I simply write I’m grateful for my comfortable bed. Other days, when I don’t really feel like doing anything, I remind myself how grateful I am to work at a place that I love and don’t dread going to every day.
This simple practice sets my tone for the day and allows me to appreciate the small things in my life just a little bit more. Remaining positive is absolutely key in the workplace. Stressful things are bound to happen, but if you focus on things you’re grateful for instead of stress, negativity and worry, I promise your job will be a whole lot easier.
2. Feeling grateful helps improve your relationships.
Have you ever met someone who just seems like a light in your life? Someone who radiates positivity and exudes gratitude in every aspect of their life. Think about the way you feel when you’re around them—joyful, content, happy. You just can’t get enough of them. You probably find yourself feeling grateful for their existence because they bring you so much joy.
Now think about someone who focuses solely on the negative. Someone who complains about every small thing in their life. You probably have a totally different feeling about them.
Positivity is contagious and truly makes the workplace an enjoyable place to be. Practicing gratitude makes life seem a bit brighter. Once you start focusing on expressing thankfulness and appreciation, it will affect other people as well and lift the whole office up with you.
3. Gratitude does wonders for your self-esteem.
Taking the time to focus on things you are thankful for and all of the positives in your life leads to higher self-esteem. And self-esteem has been linked to improved career success. Who doesn’t want that?
Once your self-esteem builds, so will your confidence. And confidence in the workplace is key. Have you been dying to start a new project or shoot out some fresh ideas that have been brewing? Start practicing gratitude and the confidence to go for something new will come with it.
I can drone on and on about the benefits of being grateful, but the one thing I want you to hold on to is that it just feels good. Gratitude brings so much joy into your life as well as the lives of others. Who doesn’t want to feel as much joy as possible?
It’s 4:30 p.m. and you’ve been relentlessly working all day to finish your client project by the 5 p.m. deadline. You’re tired, you’ve given everything you have: your heart, your soul, your mind. You can feel your heart rate increasing as your deadline approaches and as you zero in, you clear your mind and focus. This project, this deadline, becomes the only thing that matters in the world at this very time and place.
This is a person who has purpose in the workplace. A person who believes in their workplace mission. A person who has motivation. Purpose is the stuff that keeps you going when stress is high, and deadlines are fast and furious.
If you’re giving your energy, your blood, sweat, and tears for your job, it is vital to find meaning and purpose in your work. In the U.S., most of us work at least a 40-hour work week—that’s the majority of our time. Work is our life, and life should be full of positive energy and happiness. Believing in and loving our work allows us to be happy. It helps us find the drive to sit and pour over lines of data, or try again to find different solutions to problems.
It’s a slow-growing trend, but hashtags like #purpose and #loveyourwork are becoming mainstream. There are blogs about happiness at work, articles about purpose-driven work and studies about purpose in the workplace. There are even organizations dedicated to teaching companies how to help their employees find purpose and happiness at work.
People want to be happy and have purpose at work.
I personally find purpose at work in several ways:
- I know that my job is helping me reach my career goals.
- The companies I work with as a member of #TeamProsper, as well as those I volunteer with, are positively impacting in the world.
- Knowing that the work I do is making a difference helps me find value, happiness, and meaning.
What’s your purpose at work?
How we help our people, our clients and our company prosper
Over the last few weeks, I have been sharing how we #measurewhatmatters at Prosper for Purpose. I’ve referenced our quadruple bottom line as people, planet, prosperity and purpose. This week, I write about prosperity.
I chose the word prosperity rather than profit, the term used by most other organizations, because profit is only one part of prosperity. At Prosper, we view the notion of prosperity as inclusive of health, happiness and economic stability—in other words, general well-being. Why? Because an economic-focused view of prosperity will inevitably compete with health and happiness.
Causal effects between economic prosperity, health and happiness have been studied and documented. One famous study that advances the holistic definition of prosperity to which we at Prosper subscribe is the Legatum Prosperity Index, an annual ranking of 142 countries, developed by the Legatum Institute. The ranking is based on a variety of factors including wealth, economic growth, education, health, personal well-being, and quality of life.
Surveys have shown that increases in income do not lead to increases in happiness.
For example, moving up the corporate ladder may lead to an increase in economic prosperity, but the longer hours spent working may encroach upon time formerly devoted to exercise and family. In this way, economic prosperity is potentially achieved at the expense of health and happiness. That is not the kind of prosperity we want (does anyone?).
To ensure Prosper supports our team’s prosperity, each employee completed a personal development plan (PDP) this summer. The leadership team then reviewed the PDPs with each employee and made a commitment and a plan to move them forward.
Because we also care about the prosperity of our clients, we measure that too. From our kick-off session through planning, ideation and implementation, we tie our milestones and measurables to the overarching goals of the organization. In other words, we’re not happy unless our clients are successful. We work by choice with purpose-driven clients in both the business and nonprofit sectors. This means that when our clients do well, their communities prosper.
Finally, we care about the prosperity of our company. We do well by doing good. And the more we prosper, the more good we can do.
Want to help us #domoregood? Then tell your favorite Northeast Ohio charity about our new program, the 12 Months of Giving.
When I was a kid, I remember loving Sunday nights. My mom made pizza from scratch, Dad made popcorn; we kids set up a ‘picnic’ area on the living room floor and we all watched a movie or TV show together. Friends and neighbors often joined us, laughing, spending time together, looking forward to the new week.
And then something changed.
I don’t think it changed all at once—but somewhere along the line, for almost everyone I know, Sunday night became a time of isolation, stress, and dread.
We no longer simply look forward to weekends: we feel like we can barely get through until the weekend. We no longer simply work eight-hour-a-day, five-day-a-week jobs; our work comes with us wherever else we are.
We’re tired. We’re stressed. We’re overwhelmed. And we all keep hanging in there, hoping that something’s gonna give.
We’re working for the weekend. We’re working for retirement. We’re working because we have to pay bills. We’re working and we’re trying, and we keep showing up—but it’s harder and harder. I hear it again and again, from everyone from social workers to CEOs, teachers to sales teams, STNAs to lawyers, artists to ministers.
The ‘good’ news is that we are not alone. A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 30 percent of employees in the USA feel engaged at work. In a study of 142 countries around the world, only 13 percent of employees feel engaged at work. So it’s not just you—that’s good news, right?
But there’s also better news: it doesn’t have to be this way.
And THAT is what brings me to the team at Prosper For Purpose.
My entire career—maybe my entire life, really—has been about creating pathways for people to discover and live meaningful, purposeful lives. (In fact, I own and run a small company called “Meaningful Matters Incorporated.”) One thing I’ve learned is that we all truly want the way we spend our time every day to be meaningful—we *want* to look forward to our workday. We want to know that what we are doing matters. We want to believe that we contribute meaningfully to something bigger than ourselves.
Organizations, corporations, nonprofits and faith-based institutions alike exist to provide something that enhances life for others.
But somehow in the quest for efficiency, effectiveness and production, corporate cultures, the way we work, we’ve lost the practices that can create a meaningful, productive and (dare we say it) happy workplace.
So that’s what I’m doing here at Prosper For Purpose. I’m working with workplaces a lot like yours to create meaningful, productive and, yes, happy experiences. I’m bringing scientifically researched tools, practices and resources that shift and transform the work (and life!) experiences from “just getting by” to sustainable flourishing.
I’d love to tell you more about that—but that’s for another day. (Another blog post, sure—but I’d also love to have coffee with you and converse about your specific situation, in hopes of helping things change for the better for YOU, soon.)
Change is possible. Creating meaningful and happy workplaces is possible. I’m here to help. Let’s talk.