I met a fellow entrepreneur who is working with a similar goal in mind to Good Job, Pal! – building happier, more motivated and efficient teams. While we do it through thank you notes, he uses more direct access – through stomach. I explained what Good Job, Pal! does and he summarised it for himself: “So you are creating attitude of gratitude?” What a wonderful expression – I thought. So I decided to find out what it means, why it makes you happier and how to cultivate it.
What is attitude of gratitude?
I like this definition:
An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike.
For me the important part is the word habit. We will say thanks when someone does something extraordinary good, because it’s polite or because we feel cheerful, positive and thankful in that moment. But the trick is to develop a habit that allows you to be thankful any time, any day, no matter good or bad, no matter if you even received some favour or not. A habit means – you just do it and do it all the time.
Attitude of gratitude makes you happier
Why do I need it – you may ask? Or perhaps – is this some self help book material? Well, not really. Hard science such as this study from 2003 compared life satisfaction between groups that counted good things they are grateful for and groups that counted life hassles. Ten weeks later the first group felt a significantly greater well being when evaluating life as a whole as well as with better expectations from a near future.
Study from 2005 compared results of various thankfulness forms and found, for example, that someone after delivering a heartfelt thank you note felt happier for a whole month. Other studies show that writing down things that you are thankful for only for a week increases the overall happiness with life for up to six months.
Multiple other studies show similar effects which proves that we can program ourselves to feel better both when evaluating past life as well as the future. One is clear – we are only starting to tap into the power of attitude of gratitude. What else is that powerful? Maybe love and some specific drugs, but not many things.
The ripple effect
Have you noticed what happens with people around you when you are happy? When you smile and say G’Day to everyone? They smile in return. And if you manage to spark happiness big enough, it can create a snowball effect. It looks just like when you throw a stone in the water – the ripples go far, spreading the energy of impact. The ripple effect of happiness and gratitude is very similar. Just happening in the people pool around you.
This is where a thank you note sending app like Good Job, Pal! can help – if sending a thank you note is so easy, you don’t have a reason to withhold even one. The TV dashboards can show you how much gratitude and good things are happening around you. And then you receive a thank you note yourself – that will make you even happier and you will look out for more good things around you. You will find one quite quickly and send a thank you note. That is the ripple effect of attitude of gratitude in action.
But what if I don’t want to smile?
It’s ok to not want to smile sometimes. Life is like a box of chocolates as Forrest Gump’s mom says, but not all of the chocolates are sweet. However forgetting to smile can be dangerous. Some research shows that people with botox injections who could not smile properly, were more prone to form a depression. And contrary – smiling forcibly for only 20 seconds stimulates brain activity associated with positive emotions.
But with Good Job, Pal! you don’t have to feel jolly and smile to say thanks. You can send that happiness-dose-creating thank you note with a forced smile and wait for the happiness to return to you. Plus the powerful analytics allows managers to see if someone has been likely feeling down for too long and needs some help.
What if it was a bad day?
When you have the attitude of gratitude then almost no days are bad. They might be not so great, but you can always find something good, something to feel grateful about. Try what I do – every day write down three good things that happened and one thing that you feel thankful for (does not have to be related to the days events). After a while you will notice that, if you try, you can always come up with these things. And this is where that long term happiness comes from.
This is why we send a thankfulness reminder to Good Job, Pal! users that have forgotten to say thanks for too long. Because we are prone to forget and overlook the good people, deeds and things around us and it takes a bit of push and effort to see and appreciate them, but it’s worth it.
Thanksgiving should be every day
This picture shows how attitude of gratitude search term fluctuates around the Thanksgiving.
Everyone feels more thankful and more happier then. But why does it have to end? Don’t express gratitude only when it has to be expressed or when you feel like that. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it. Even for the smallest and insignificant things. You and everyone around you will be happier and then the ripple effect is very possible.
Are there any downsides of expressing more gratitude? There is some research that you might develop a sweet tooth and that bad bosses can become less painful, but other than that I don’t know of any ill side-effects. Do you?
If you don’t – go and smile, say thanks, write a thank you note, start a thankfulness book and sign up for Good Job, Pal! to help your team to become happier, more motivated and efficient.