As we're entering the holiday season, it's a good time to give thought to the things we have to be grateful for–and how gratitude can affect our productivity.
Gratitude is good for the soul — and our productivity
As this episode is published it's the day before Thanksgiving in the United States and the beginning of the winter holiday season. This season reminds us to think about gratitude, but gratitude is valuable all year round.
What gratitude means
When I Google “define gratitude,” I get this definition:
Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness, from the Latin gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’, is a feeling of appreciation felt by and/or similar positive response shown by the recipient of kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity, towards the giver of such gifts.
Why gratitude matters
1. It makes us happier and healthier
Research shows those who practice gratitude (e.g., daily writing down something you’re thankful for) are happier and healthier–mentally and physically
2. It helps us achieve our goals
People who keep gratitude logs are more likely to make progress on their goals.
“In a long-term research project on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being, Professors Robert A. Emmons, University of California, and Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami have made some amazing discoveries. “Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.” says Professor Emmons.” (from “Increasing Productivity with Gratitude” on Inc.com)
3. It strengthens our relationships
“One study showed that when we express gratitude to our partners, the partner is more likely to feel positively towards us and communicate about concerns in the relationship.” (from “Does Gratitude Made Us More Productive?” on medium.com)
4. It improves our workplace
Studies have shown that when managers express gratitude toward employees, the employees become measurably more productive. As one writer noted:
“One study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, set out to explore how perceptions about our value at work (in this case, by managers) impact behavior on the job. Researchers randomly divided participants — who were university fundraisers — into two groups. The experiments showed that when managers expressed appreciation for the employee’s work, productivity went up significantly. For example, one group of participants received a “thank you” pep talk before starting work. That group made 50 percent more fundraising calls than their peers who didn’t get thanked.”
Furthermore, expressions of gratitude in the workplace (both giving and receiving them) results in happier people. Yet sadly, according to some research:
Americans are “less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anywhere else. . . . Almost all respondents reported that saying “thank you” to colleagues “makes me feel happier and more fulfilled”—but on a given day, only 10 percent acted on that impulse. A stunning 60 percent said they “either never express gratitude at work or do so perhaps once a year.”
In short, Americans actively suppress gratitude on the job, even to the point of robbing themselves of happiness.”
Simple gratitude practices that will enrich your life
1. Keep a daily gratitude journal or list
Keep a small notebook in your pocket or purse or on your bedside table. Use Evernote or the Notes app on your phone. Hang a big sticky note beside your bathroom mirror. The medium doesn't matter; just find someplace where each day you write down one or more things–big or small–that you're grateful for.
There is ample scientific evidence that this simple practice increases productivity:
“Writing down what you’re thankful for increases happiness. Happiness increases productivity (proof here). Thus, a gratitude journal is arguably the most underrated tool for increasing productivity.”
2. Say thank you to someone every day.
Thank the people in your household and your workplace. Make a point of thanking the people who wait on you in public — grocery checker; bank teller; barista or waiter; Fed Ex guy; secretary; . . .
Go beyond just mumbling “Thanks” while you’re entering your PIN in the credit card reader. Actually pause, just for a second, look them in the eye, and say thank you.
Especially as we go into the holiday season, a lot of people are under a lot of stress–especially those who work in retail. The simple practice of saying thank you will contribute to making their lives (and yours) better.
3. Keep a box of thank you cards at hand and send one out to someone every week.
There's something special about getting a hand-written note via “snail mail,” and something very rewarding about writing our thank-you out by hand and popping it into the mail.
Things I’m enjoying
- The “Making Light” candles I use in my home office from Middle Davids Artisan Candles.
- My iPad Pro & Apple Pencil – besides using them daily in my law practice (e.g., to mark up PDFs and communicate with clients and other parties), I use them for fun. The Procreate app lets me practice lettering without using up paper and I find it relaxing to color pictures in the Pigment app.
- Fountain pens & ink. As an adjunct to my Bullet Journal, I've started using and enjoying fountain pens and bottled ink. Most of my fountain pens were bought from Goulet Pens. My current favorites:
- TWSBI Diamond 580 clear pen with a fine nib, inked with Noodler’s Periwinkle bottled ink–a pretty blue ink that works well for every day.
- Lamy LX rose gold with a medium nib, inked with Jacques Herbin Améthyste de L’Oural — beautiful violet purple ink; love the way the pen feels on the paper.
- TWSBI ECO white with a clear barrel and a medium nib; inked with Monteverde Ruby bottled ink. A pure, clear red ink that’s perfect for when I need a red pen.
- Amazon Echo. It's a little bit of futuristic fun to play with it, asking it to tell me tomorrow's weather, today's news, or a joke. It also makes my worktime more pleasant when I ask it play music of whatever genre suits my mood and my tasks.
- I've been fortunate to be able to buy some beautiful paintings done by my friends Tanya and Janet. They hand on the wall in my home office, and every time I look at them I’m reminded of memories from our past.
Today I’m grateful for
- My career, which has allowed me to meet interesting people and experience amazing events and places, challenges my mind, and lets me help provide for my family
- My family. Mike & I’ve been married since we were 18 years old, and we’ve been through some rough times. But he is a faithful, steadfast, hard-working man who has always supported me and believed in me.
- The people who’ve helped me with podcasting: Cliff Ravenscraft, Daniel J. Lewis, John Bukenas, Emily Prokop, the guys in the Tuesday night podcasting mastermind, all amazing podcasters in their own right: Mark Des Cotes, Wayne Henderson, Dave Jackson, John Bukenas, & Jason Bryant.
- My guests this year (parenthetical reference is to the episode each appeared in): Lisa Woodruff (122), Kara Benz (124), Kesha Moore (128), Maria Dismondy (131), Amanda Berlin (134), Freya Casey (137), Katie Krimitsos (140), Jennifer Fleury (143), Shelly Clayton (146), Mandy Hanson (149), Sonia Harris (152), Sephra Scheuber (155), Michelle Pfennighaus (158), Beatriz Martín-Pérez (161), Maria Bengtson (164)
- The women I’ve had the privilege to meet and get to know in the TPW masterminds
- The women in the TPW Community
- Everyone who’s written to me
I am very aware that I live a blessed and in many ways privileged life. And I’m thankful for those blessings and privileges. But when I think about what I’m grateful for, almost always what rises to the top is the people in my life.
“Without people, productivity is meaningless.” (from The Productivity Project, by Chris Bailey)
What do you think?
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