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This One, Small Thing Will Improve Your Work-Life

What if I told you there was one small practice that you could introduce every day that would help you with whatever is weighing on you at work and beyond? Regardless of your situation- whether it be that you’re in a job that you’re looking to leave, you have a boss that you don’t like, or that you like your job and you just have a bad day from time to time. No matter where you are, there is one small thing you can do today to improve your work-life and beyond.

This one, magic, secret antidote to improve your life is to practice gratitude.

The Science Behind How Gratitude Can Help

According to an article in Positive Psychology, the health benefits of practicing gratitude include: For the individual:
• increased happiness and positive mood
• more satisfaction with life
• less materialistic
• less likely to experience burnout
• better physical health
• better sleep
• less fatigue
• lower levels of cellular inflammation
• greater resiliency
• encourages the development of patience, humility, and wisdom For groups:
• increases prosocial behaviors
• strengthens relationships
• may help employees’ effectiveness
• may increase job satisfaction

If you think about it, it’s probably obvious why gratitude helps. While we can’t control the things that happen to us, we can control how we choose to react to them. Before we react, we have a primary thought about the situation, which then triggers an emotion, which finally triggers a reaction. So if we consciously choose to look for the good (i.e.- what we’re grateful for), we will be more inclined to produce positive thoughts about events we experience which then will trigger a positive reaction.

A Story About How Gratitude Can Help

When I was a marketing director, I had a really bad habit of waking up in the morning and immediately grabbing my phone to look at my email. I was exposing myself to all of the things that I needed to do and my immediate thought when I woke up was, “I am behind.” This led to all kinds of personal, judgmental feelings directly tied to my value of being a dependable and helpful business partner. I was setting myself up for failure by starting my day focusing on everything that I haven’t yet accomplished. I was already in a deficit.

Contrast that with what I do now. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is think about the three things I am grateful for and what I am looking forward to in the day ahead. That allows me to start my day on a positive note and subconsciously, reminds me to focus on the things I am grateful for throughout the day.

Of course, there are mornings when my baby is crying and I forget to take the time to go through this exercise.

The contrast between the days that I do take five minutes to think about the things I’m grateful for in the morning vs. the days that I don’t are markedly different in terms of how I show up, how I feel, and what opportunities come my way.

Ways to Practice Gratitude

The thing I love about this practice is that it requires no additional equipment, it can be done from anywhere, and it only takes a couple of minutes to do. To discover what works best for you, you’ll likely want to experiment. To give you some ideas, here are some options that you can choose from to incorporate a gratitude practice:
• Taking three minutes each morning and/or every evening to think about what you’re grateful for. This may be a prayer or just a silent thought to yourself.
• Keeping a gratitude journal where you write down what you’re grateful for
• Choosing one person a day or per week to thank for their positive contribution to your life (whether this be verbal or via a letter or gift)
• Kick off your team meetings by asking everyone to share one thing they are grateful for in their lives
• Take a pause after each difficult encounter to ask yourself one thing you’re grateful for as it relates to this encounter
• Calendar time in your day to do a gratitude meditation. Read more about the positive impact meditation can have on your life.

• Set up a gratitude buddy system. With a friend, commit to texting each other each day to share the three things you are grateful for and hold each other accountable.

Try one of the above for most of the days of this week and gauge the difference between the days you do and the days you don’t focus on gratitude and how it improves your work-life and beyond.

This could be the one small change you need to spark a larger, positive transition in your life.

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