10 Ways to Express Gratitude in Your Life

Grateful

Over the last two weeks I’ve shared articles about the 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Now that we understand the why and how of gratitude, we are left with the question: If gratitude is so important, how can you begin to show it? Below, I’ve detailed 10 ways you can begin to express gratitude.

Express Gratitude: Thank You Blocks

1. Say “thank you” more.

Start your practice of gratitude by saying “thank you” more in the workplace and at home. From 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace, I give the following suggestions:

  • Be specific. When thanking someone, be specific. “Thanks for your help,” feels less genuine than “Emily, thank you for your help on the design project this weekend.” This could also apply to the out-of-office environment: “Carly, thank you for doing the dishes tonight.”
  • Tailor your thank-you to the person. Some people do not like public recognition – in these cases, an email or handwritten note to show your appreciation may be enough. Others may want more public recognition, such as a thank you during a meeting or family gathering.
  • Be consistent. Consistently thanking and appreciating people for what they do will help build positive relationships, and make them feel valued. Feeling valued helps build trust and appreciation.

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pinky Promise2. Make yourself a promise.

According to Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert in gratitude, research shows making a promise/oath/vow to perform a behavior increases the likelihood the action will be performed. Write your own gratitude vow and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day. Set a goal to express your gratitude at least five times a day, and check in with yourself before you go to bed.

3. Express gratitude: commit to your practice.

There will be days when you feel like doing anything other than finding reasons to be grateful, but pushing through these days will empower you and help you build the strength and resilience necessary to push through other challenges.

Oops!

4. Allow yourself to be human.

It’s alright to miss a day once in a while, and it’s alright to feel grumpy about having to follow through on your commitment when it’s the last thing you want to do. We are human, we are not perfect, so cut yourself some slack if you do miss an opportunity for gratitude.

Boys on phones5. Put your phone away when you are with others.

According to Tiny Buddha, a popular website and blog, one of the easiest ways to express your gratitude for other people is to do your best to be fully present in their presence. Putting your phone away when you are with others will allow you to be more appreciative of the experiences you have with them, and they may be more appreciative of your attentiveness.

6. Do something little for someone else.

This might include helping with the dishes when you go to someone’s house for dinner; telling a co-worker’s boss how they are doing a great job and are contributing to the company; giving your server or barista a larger tip than usual; praising someone on Yelp and/or recommending them to the people you know; or buying someone lunch or a treat to show your appreciation.

Express Gratitude: Superhero - compliment yourself

7. Compliment yourself.

Give yourself a compliment while you are looking in the mirror or write a compliment for yourself on a sticky note and place it somewhere in your house. In our society today it seems more “acceptable” to put ourselves down or refuse a compliment because it makes us seem humble. Rachel Yahne, an award-winning blogger and lifestyle writer, wrote The Scary Reason You Can’t Accept A Compliment. In her post she says, “We spend so much of our time putting ourselves down (using inner-monologue to tell ourselves we’re not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough)…If we complimented ourselves more, we’d be more willing to take compliments from others. Not only would be better equipped to react and accept compliments, we’d actually realize there are traits about us worthy of complimenting.” This realization could help increase our overall self-esteem.

teach & model gratitide8. Model and teach gratitude.

According to the Positive Psychology Program, modeling is often the best way to teach any skill or trait to children, but, what about extending your gratitude practice to those around you? Researchers from Princeton University showed cooperative and altruistic behavior can spread from one person to another. Expressing gratitude may inspire other people to do the same.

9. Remember the challenges.

According to Robert Emmons, it is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced so you may be grateful in your current state. Remembering the difficult times compared to where you are presently helps create a contrast. “This contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.”

10. Keep a gratitude list, journal, or jar.

Taking the time to write down what you are grateful for can help reinforce positive thoughts, which is helpful because the brain tends to naturally focus on what goes wrong. According to the BYU School of Education, a gratitude journal can help us recognize opportunities to express our gratitude. As we notice the things we are grateful for, we will be more inclined to express gratitude to others, thus multiplying the positive benefits of our gratitude. Below are a few pointers on how to get started:

Express gratitude with a gratitude journalGratitude List/Journal

Pick a time when you will take a few minutes each day to write in you journal about things you are grateful for. Think of both your immediate and extended family. Think of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You may even think of the physical things in your life like your home, or your health.

Gratitude Jar

Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite coffee shop, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper (bonus points for colored paper!), and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a many of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of what is good in your life. To learn more about how this activity can enhance your life, you can read about it here.

Connecting the Dots

These 10 suggestions for ways to express gratitude in your life aren’t the only options out there. Be creative in your own way of expressing gratitude and showing appreciation for those around you. Wondering how you are going to fit another “to-do” item into your busy schedule? Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by feeling like you have to do everything listed above. Even the smallest increase in your expression of gratitude can make a positive impact on your life and the lives of those around you.

Thank you for reading!

Interested in learning more? Check out my article 3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace and 4 Reasons Why You Should Express Gratitude Both In & Out of the Workplace.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your personal expression of gratitude, or the expression of gratitude in your workplace, please review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 26th, 2017. See the full post here.

3 Ways Gratitude Promotes a Culture of Engagement in the Workplace

Thumbs up - gratitude

Have you ever worked a job where you rarely, if ever, felt appreciated or were personally thanked for the work you performed? Unfortunately, you are probably not alone. Expression of gratitude in the workplace has many benefits.

Thanking the people we work with is something we all can do, whether you have a boss or are the boss. Expressing gratitude and appreciation is free, does not require a significant time investment, and the many benefits of gratitude are backed up by scientific research.

What is gratitude? Gratitude is the quality of being thankful. Gratitude involves having appreciation for what an individual receives, whether it is tangible or intangible. Researchers describe gratitude as “an emotional response to a gift. It is the appreciation felt after one has been the beneficiary of an altruistic act.”

In the workplace, leaders might send a message of, “you should be grateful you have this job!” instead of, “I am grateful for your hard work.” This message is not typically received well by employees, who, instead of feeling grateful for having a job, think their boss should be grateful they are willing to come to work in the first place.

Both parties tend to think about how unappreciated they are, which leads to neither the boss nor the employee wanting to express a little gratitude first.

According to a survey conducted by the John Templeton Foundation, work is the last place Americans are likely to express or feel gratitude. When survey respondents were asked how grateful they were for a variety of things, “your current job” tended to rank dead last. 70% of respondents would feel better about themselves if their boss were more grateful and 81% said they would work harder. Even though employees are eager to have a boss who expresses gratitude to them, 74% never or rarely express gratitude to their bosses. Both parties tend to think about how unappreciated they are, which leads to neither the boss nor the employee wanting to express a little gratitude first.

If leaders want to improve workplace engagement, their first step should be expressing genuine gratitude toward their employees. Why?

Below, I describe three reasons leaders should take the first step in implementing gratitude as a part of organizational culture.

increase productivityGratitude increases productivity.

Researchers examined how gratitude in the workplace affects productivity. The study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, described how employees working as university fundraisers were used to explore how perceptions about our feelings of being valued at work (in this case, by managers) impacts behavior on the job. Why fundraisers? Fundraising is often considered a thankless job, which may trigger rude feedback and regular rejections. The control group of fundraisers did not receive any intervention. They showed up to work and began making fundraising phone calls.

The experimental group received a “thank you” from a director of annual giving before heading to work. This experiment showed when managers expressed appreciation for the employees’ work, productivity went up significantly. The group of fundraisers who received the pre-work “thank you” made 50% more fundraising calls than their peers who were not thanked.

happy at work

Gratitude increases job satisfaction.

A study from the University of Melbourne in Australia found gratitude was linked to job satisfaction. When employees feel appreciated, they may begin to show/feel appreciation for what they have (their job, etc.), and they are more likely to be happy and feel satisfied with their jobs. The study suggests organizations aiming to increase job satisfaction among employees can do so by incorporating gratitude into workplace culture.

psychologically safe at workGratitude may increase feelings of psychological safety.

The Harvard Business Review described a massive two-year study by Google. The results of the study linked psychological safety to high team performance. What is psychological safety? Believing one won’t be punished when one makes a mistake; feeling safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of team members. How is psychological safety related to gratitude? A study in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed those who experience gratitude are more resilient. Increased resilience helps individuals better manage stress and experience fewer negative or toxic emotions like resentment and envy. According to a 2012 study conducted by the University of Kentucky, individuals who show gratitude experience less aggression, a decreased desire to seek revenge, and an increase in sensitivity and empathy toward other people.

connecting the dots1

Connecting the Dots

If workplace culture is to change, buy-in and modeling from leadership is a must. Employees will look to their superiors first. Feeling appreciated by those in leadership positions will help create a culture of thankfulness at all levels. Lack of appreciation from the top trickles down, and is revealed in different ways (e.g. lack of appreciation of coworkers, decrease in workplace morale, and higher staff turnover).

Gratitude is a basic building block for engagement from all parties in an organization, and it can be easily integrated into workplace culture. Gratitude is something we can all express. From a leadership or management perspective, gratitude does not cost anything than maybe a few seconds of your time, and it can help improve workplace happiness, morale, and engagement.

How can you begin to improve workplace engagement with gratitude? A simple, genuine thank-you is a great place to start.

  • Be specific. An organization might provide generic and impersonal “thank yous” (e.g. a mug, given to everyone during the holidays, with “thank you” printed on the side) which do not come off as heartfelt. When thanking someone, be specific. “Thanks for your help,” feels less genuine than, “Emily, thank you for your help on the design project this weekend.”
  • Tailor your thank you to the person. Some people do not like public recognition – in these cases, an email or handwritten note to show your appreciation may be enough. Others may want more public recognition, such as a thank you during a meeting.
  • Be consistent. Consistently thanking and appreciating people for the work they do will help build positive relationships, and make them feel valued. Your employees will become more engaged, which will build trust and appreciation into your workplace culture, making you a more effective leader.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post! If you’re looking for ways to increase your personal expression of gratitude, or the expression of gratitude in your workplace, review my services here and contact me here.

This was originally posted on LinkedIn on October 11th, 2017. See the full post here.