February 17, 2020

Simple Ideas to Building a Daily Habit of Gratitude

A friend forwarded me a link to a blog post, "20 ideas to spark a daily gratitude habit," which correctly notes: "Gratitude sounds simple, but it isn't always easy to put into practice. Why? Simply put, we're busy. Hitting pause doesn’t come easily for most of us."

Baylor Scott & White Health, a not-for-profit​ healthcare system in Texas, polled its "physicians, nurses, surgeons and staff to talk about gratitude, why it matters and how they find room to incorporate it into their filled-to-the-brim schedules."

While I appreciate all of the responses, there are a few that caught my attention:

Focus

Kathryn Greiner, MD said: "We have to intentionally practice gratitude. The default human condition is to see the negative. That’s good — it has kept the human race alive and thriving. But we have to change our default thinking from 'fight or flight' to slow down and give room for being grateful.

There is a lot of power in writing these things down. Start small and simple and then get more big picture. Spending more time focusing on what we are grateful for can help overpower the negative thoughts upon which our brain wants to place our default focus."

In a world where we are inundated with vast amounts of information via multiple mediums, it is a challenge for most of us to remain focused. Being distracted, however, may cause us to make mistakes. While making mistakes are part of the learning process, certain mistakes may jeopardize a company's operations. This is why my colleagues regularly hear me use the f-word, focus.

Say "thank you" (and mean it)

Erin Reynolds, Psy.D. said: "We know from positive psychology research that practicing gratitude is associated with greater overall happiness and reduced depression. Research in sports psychology has also shown that gratitude can increase an athlete’s self-esteem, which can contribute to a stronger athletic performance.

The easiest way to express gratitude is simply by saying, 'thank you!' Research actually shows that even the act of expressing gratitude internally shows the same benefit but of course, it’s always nice to say 'thank you' to the person you are grateful toward."

I love the feeling when someone says "thank you" to me. And it is a feeling that I try to convey to my colleagues on a regular basis by thanking them for their hard work as we strive to fulfill our company's mission and achieve our goals.

Just breathe

Deepali Kumar, RN said: "First thing when you wake up, remember you are breathing and alive to see another second!

Slow down when life around you get too busy and crazy… I mean literally tell yourself stop for a second and just breathe. I must do this on occasion, especially when I get frustrated with situations around me.

"Gratitude reminds me of what I have all the time. It brings me instant joy and peace, giving me a good heart, mind and spirit."

Being reactionary is one of my biggest weaknesses. For example, when someone says something that I do not agree with, I can immediate react with negative words in a harsh tone. I am learning that by simply taking a deep breath before responding, I am able to respond in a calm manner.

Live with integrity

Sally Gillam, DNP, MAHS, RN, NEA-BC said: "Gratitude is a choice — one that is underscored in strong appreciation for shared values in doing what is right and ethical. When you elect to make everyday decisions using a personal model of unwavering integrity and compassion, life is always seen as good. It may not always be easy, but it is always the right path.
  • Wake up doing your part personally to be the right team member.
  • Admit to a value system that you share with others so they know they are important to you.
  • Hold yourself and others around you accountable to always do the right thing."

I take take a philosophical approach to business. In doing so, I encourage each colleague to understand that he or she is a unique and valuable member of our team. And in the process, letting them know their particular importance to me as a manager.

It is also important to instill the belief that we must act ethically and with integrity in all of our business dealings. Equally as important, however, is having the courage to call-out unethical behavior.

While leading a business is difficult and stressful, I find that following a daily habit of gratitude reduces some of the stress and empowers my colleagues to become stronger contributors to our team.

What are your daily gratitude habits?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

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