What is an Attitude of Gratitude?

After exploring the aspects of Employee Engagement over the past few weeks, we will now turn our focus to Gratitude. Developing a mindful practice in an Attitude of Gratitude can be one of the most powerful sources for inspiring Employee Engagement and for your own wellbeing.

Personally, I have the Connectedness and Belief strengths which lead me to look for connections, meaning and purpose in my life and my work. Through these lenses I am grateful everyday for the connections I see all around me. Rich, meaningful work and relationships are such a gift and I am filled with gratitude daily.

This is part 1 in the 3-part series on Gratitude by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

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Do you regularly express gratitude? Do you regularly pause and take note of what you are grateful for as a leader? It turns out that an “attitude of gratitude” is not only wise for building positive relationships, but good for your health.

“If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.”
Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, expert in brain and mind health.

There are so many reasons for expressing gratitude. In addition to the positive effects on your health, gratitude brings about an increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. It helps to engender trust in relationships. When you recognize and acknowledge the contributions of the people you lead, it positively impacts them.

Studies have shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in the body, including:

  • Mood neurotransmitters
  • Reproductive hormones
  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure and cardiac rhythms
  • Stress hormones
  • Inflammatory and immune systems
  • Cognitive neurotransmitters

If you take your wellbeing seriously, you may want to increase the frequency at which you pause to acknowledge what you are grateful for. Feel it and express gratitude.

The Study of Gratitude

Traditionally, psychologists have focused on understanding distress rather than positive emotions. However, with the current focus on Positive Psychology, scientists are now looking at gratitude to understand the experience of the emotion, individual differences in frequency, and the relationship between these two aspects.

Gratitude is a signature strength of character that contributes to our sense of fulfillment and satisfaction. The teams you lead want to and need to know that you are grateful for their contributions.

Some studies have found a connection between spirituality and gratitude. Those who regularly attend religious services experience a greater sense of gratitude in all areas of life. Or, from a Strengths Perspective, those of us who have the Connectedness and/or Belief Strengths seek and find a connection between what we do and how we serve.

Researchers have also considered that there may be obstacles to gratitude. They found that self-absorption and entitlement are impediments to gratitude.

When you are preoccupied with yourself, it is easy to forget your benefits and benefactors.

With an attitude of “I deserve this,” or “you owe me,” or “life owes me,” grievances will always outnumber blessings.

According to Mark T. Mitchell, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College in Virginia:

“Gratitude is born of humility, for it acknowledges the giftedness of the creation and the benevolence of a Creator. This recognition gives birth to acts marked by attention and responsibility. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is marked by hubris, which denies the gift, and this always leads to inattention, irresponsibility, and abuse.”

The power of gratitude is accessible to all – spiritual practice nor not. Given the important link to health and wellbeing, it makes sense to increase our experience of feeling grateful. Your ability to positively impact others can come from your mindful practice of gratitude.

What are your habits and practices around cultivating an attitude of gratitude? I would love to hear from you. Contact me here and on LinkedIn.

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