By: Tammy Godby, Global Manager, Organizational Development | 12/10/2021 |

This time of year, many become reacquainted with gratitude.  In the US, we take time during the month of November to be thankful.  We remember and appreciate the elements in our lives for which we should give thanks. Gratitude goes beyond being thankful and is something I’ve begun practicing daily.

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation.  It’s not limited to people, pets, or wealth.  Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation for anything that’s important or meaningful in your life.  I’m grateful for the sunrise I’m privileged to see every day.  I’m also grateful for puppy snuggles, the goodnight kisses I still get on my forehead from my kids each night, the soft pillow I have, good music, good food, friends, and family.  The list is truly endless.  However, we tend not to practice gratitude daily because we take many of these things for granted.

Gratitude has become something we have to intentionally think about and implement.  It’s not natural for many and requires consistent practice.  I was talking with a colleague recently and I learned more about gratitude I want to share.  Feelings have a major impact on us personally as well as in our lives.  Some feelings can suppress our creativity, productivity, innovative spirit.  I’m sure you can guess some of those feelings: fear, anger, sadness, anxiety.   There are also feelings that increase our creativity, productivity, and innovative spirit:  happiness, laughter, excitement.  There are a lot more feelings in both categories, but you get the point.

Here’s the important part.  Only one emotion, when felt authentic and not passively, releases gamma waves in our brain, connecting our left and right brain to work together at the same time, allowing us to perform at our peak.  This applies to any area of our life, work or personal.  Genuine gratitude opens our minds and feeds our brains to be at its best. Seriously, the benefits of practicing gratitude are enormous.

There are two ways that I practice gratitude; internally and externally.  Internally, I’ve begun keeping a gratitude journal.  Each day I write down at least three things I’m grateful for.  Sometimes it’s as simple as a hot cup of coffee, a good tune to start the day, and kids getting to school on time.  Other days I may have a deeper connection: spending time with my sister who is visiting from out of town, good news from a teammate, healthy parents. The point is not to cover a bad day with happiness butter and hope the hard things just go away.  The exercise here is to remember who we are, how we got here, who helped us along the way and do the same for others – truly appreciate elements in our lives that we often take for granted.

Externally, I make sure to tell those around me that I’m grateful they are part of my life.  How many of us have one person that has always been there, or maybe a turning point in your life that someone was part of?   Do the people in your life know that you value and appreciate them? Have you told them? Have you reached out and said thank you to someone because they made a difference in your life?

As leaders, it’s not just important, it’s imperative that we practice gratitude internally and externally.

Internally: I want to challenge everyone to begin thinking of at least three things each day that you are grateful for.  Appreciate what you have and those in your life.

Externally:  I challenge you to begin reaching out to three teammates each day with a word of gratitude.  Let them know you’re grateful for the help they offered on a project, being part of the team, offering to fill in, being present during meetings, working diligently every day to support the team.  Be specific, it matters. Don’t stop, I appreciate you.  Go the distance – express the full why. Thanks for participating in the meeting, it helps reinforce a creative space for the team to work.

We’ve all experienced some major shifts in our lives over the last couple of years. Think of the impact you can have personally as well as for others as many are continuing to find their footing again.

Gratitude is like a smile, it’s contagious. Think about what you’re grateful for and pass it on.