That’s gratitude for ya

image by Lindsay E. Usher

How practicing gratitude can get you further in life

In the hierarchy of the business world, “fairness” is often just an unintentional by-product. Results, productivity, needs, demands, egos and time constraints usually command our focus. It doesn’t seem fair. It’s tempting to become cynical — jaded, even.

You are under pressure. We’re all under pressure to produce results and to strive for more in our lives. As we navigate our work and personal lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the privileges we enjoy. As Billie Jean King famously said (in her book of the same name), “Pressure is a privilege.”

She’s right. We can be grateful for the pressure we have. The pressures we face mean we have achieved a certain level of responsibility and success. The good news: Taking the time to be grateful for what we have — including pressure — can actually help propel us forward. Use gratitude to help get you past obstacles … or to at least feel better about where you’re at right now.

Gratitude is easy

Fortunately, being grateful is simple. It’s easy to take for granted all that you have to be thankful for — family, friends, your health, your job — but you can change that simply in an instant. Instantly feel happier by jotting down a short list of things you are grateful for or focus for a few minutes on one person that lights up your life. It can get you out of a mental or emotional jam and will free you to approach problems with a new energy and perspective.

Success does not equal happiness

Actually, it’s the other way around: happiness is the key to success. Gratitude is rooted in happiness. If you love what you do, you are far more likely to be successful at it. The kind of intrinsic motivation that comes from loving what you do can help you overcome obstacles you would never undertake if you’re just sharecropping on someone else’s land. No, the world does not need another singing guitar player. But it does need people that are fully engaged and in love with what they do. If that’s you, do it. Strum away.

Express thankfulness

Your genuine, thoughtful gestures of gratitude will stand out. Pay attention to what lights people up. Deliver it to them in small doses at a later date. Remember to say “thanks” more often than you are used to — either verbally, written in a note or via an email. However …

…”keep it real”

Be genuine in your thanks with others and pick your spots. The best gratitude is practiced at the right time. Too much and it becomes a wall of sound that gets tuned out.

Encourage the heart

Solicit input from others. Really consider their perspectives and opinions. One of the worst mistakes many managers make is to solicit input from others when either a decision has already been made or there is little chance for new input to have an impact. Don’t be that guy. Bring people along with you early and often and encourage them to contribute. The collective wisdom of all does not diminish your role in a successful outcome.

Gratitude can get you going. It can get others going, as well. Don’t decide someone else needs to change. It may be true, but the stronger play is for you to change you. Gratitude will help you move forward and will enable you to enjoy now much more.

An earlier version of this article originally appeared in androsform.com.

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