This past weekend, we all sat around that Thanksgiving table with abundant food and family and friends. At some point during preparing the turkey, the mashed potatoes or the pumpkin pie, you likely had some thoughts about the meaning of this holiday, and gave thanks for all the things you are grateful for. Perhaps you thought about how fortunate you are to have so much food available, or the family that gathered around the table and how grateful you are that they are here and bring joy to your life, or perhaps you were grateful that you are healthy enough to get to Thanksgiving dinner in the first place, or that the centerpiece was lovely, or that your drive there was safe. There was so much to be thankful for – perhaps you even promised yourself that you’d be more acknowledging of all those things on a more regular basis, especially if you’ve seen any of the research that says that those who practice gratitude on a regular basis are happier in life.
But what about at work?
We spend more of our lives at work than nearly any other single place, so of course we want that place to be as pleasant and enjoyable as possible. Well, here’s a little trick to help that out: practice gratitude at work!
It’s human nature to notice the things that don’t work, that are annoying or unfair; it’s called the Negativity Bias. It’s what kept us alive when it was most important to notice that eating the bitter tasting berries made us sick – it’s a survival instinct. But human kind has outgrown the need for this bias in many places, including most of our day to day interactions. But we’re still wired that way! So it’s up to each of us to overcome that wiring with thoughtful prioritizing and behavior.
One way to do that is to start noticing everything that’s good, that works, that we’re grateful for at work. In the same way that you are grateful for your health and home, you might be grateful that you have a job at all, that your employer chose you of all the possible options for this role. You might be grateful that your admin organizes your calendar and delivers it to you with a smile. You might be grateful that when you pass Doris’ desk with all the cartoons, that one inevitably makes you giggle, or that Monty always starts meetings on time and gets you out in time for lunch.
If you want to increase your satisfaction at work – start to notice the things that go right, that you enjoy, that you’re grateful for.
To take it to another level and start to impact the entire culture, practice actually thanking people for things! Acknowledge the delivery guy with more than a good tip. Smile and thank your coworkers for joining you in the meeting. Thank your boss for her feedback on your last report that has helped you see areas to improve. Acknowledge your intern for his hard work and curiosity. Read THIS to learn some good acknowledgement tips for how to say more than just “thanks.”
These small acts of gratitude can shift the entire attitude and culture of the office, no matter where you sit. It’s contagious!
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