Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that in order to achieve contentment, one should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”
Unfortunately, it’s easy to relegate the notion of gratefulness into a warm sentiment we talk about around the Holidays – especially Thanksgiving.
Here are three ways gratitude is more important than we realize:
1) Gratitude leads to resource-based strategies.
When I observe all the things I’m grateful for I’m also taking note of the the resources I have at my disposal to accomplish my mission. When I become calloused to all I have there is a tendency to focus on what I lack. Pair this with a little comparison of what I believe others have at their disposal and I can quickly become focused on chasing what I think I need instead of diligently working with what’s already provided.
A great example of the power of a resource-based strategy is the development work that has been accomplished in Rwanda since the tragic genocide of the mid-90s. Western relief workers historically looked at the needs of underdeveloped communities through a lens of what was needed, dumping massive resources into the area that ended up temporarily propping up communities, but did not sustain once withdrawn. In Rwanda, they took a resource-based approach, working with locals to identify the few resources they did have (which was next to nothing), and then partnering with them to develop strategies the community would be able to sustain over the long term. The re-development work there has been noted as some of the most effective in history.
Where in your life, leadership or business are you focused on what you don’t have?When was last time you took an inventory of what you do have? What if you spent an hour thinking about all you could do with that?
2) Gratitude releases our best work.
Where are you operating outside of your most natural gifting?What can you do this month to decrease your striving in an area of perceived lack and increase your stewardship of the gifts and resources you have?
3) Gratitude injects life into the people around us.
When we are grateful, we are a lot more likely to notice the contributions of others instead of only the shortcomings we perceive are contributing to our lack. Noticing the specific ways our inner circle adds value leads us to express our appreciation and speak life into those we depend on the most. Research shows that a note of appreciation often goes much further towards motivating someone than the standard 2-5% pay increase you might be debating (but give the money too!).
In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, remember, “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
It’s really difficult to encourage our team at a heart level if we ourselves are caught up in ungratefulness, callousness or even resentment.
How might your team and family benefit from you spending a few minutes writing down everything you are grateful for?