One of the most empowering lessons I have been fortunate enough to learn is that no matter what is going on in my life…the good, the bad and the ugly…thankfulness leads to happiness. In fact, one of my favorite quotes is by one of the great champions of being thankful, Oprah Winfrey. Oprah said “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
I love those words but I haven’t always done that.
As a truly happy entrepreneur, one of my major regrets is how tough I was to get along with when I was younger. I never took the time or saw the importance of being thankful and saying thank you to the people in my life. Instead I constantly focused on what was missing, what needed to get better and all of the other problems and flaws I could put negative energy into. I was left with frustration instead of aspiration.
As the leader of my organization I have a lot to be thankful for. But I’ve learned that sometimes it’s about looking for the things to be grateful for. And when I am intentional about catching somebody on my team doing something right, the energy always goes up. What gets rewarded, via praise or recognition, always gets repeated…so being thankful is one of the easiest ways I can improve my team’s morale and performance.
So how can you become more thankful? This is what’s worked for me:
- I start each day with my mantra. As I leave the house, I look up into the sky at the sun, listen to the birds and I say out loud “Today I Am Thankful”. Try it. It’s the way I jump into my car with the smile that I bring to work.
- Commit to this simple, yet intentional, activity once a day for a full week: Make a list of 20 things you are thankful for; it can be family, friends, that co-worker who goes out of her way to do something kind, your pets, fresh strawberries, riding a bike, a good hair day, an awesome life coach, the sun, the rain, holidays…you name it. And if it’s difficult to come up with 20 then it’s never been a better time to do this activity. All you need to do the first day is to take a moment and list 20 things you are thankful for. The next day, re-read that list, and then add 5 more things. And the next day, read that list and add 5 more things. Repeat for the rest of the week and by the end of the week you will be amazed at the effect that your 5 minutes of intentionally being grateful will have on your attitude and your interactions with others – both at work and at home! I keep that list handy and when I am having ‘one of those days’ I can look at it for a quick reminder of all of the things I have to be grateful for.
- Look for opportunities to boost morale. Let people know how much you appreciate their contributions. On your team, not every job is visible but every job is valuable. Make sure to thank people for those invisible jobs well done!
- Say thank you. Say it often. And make sure you’re sincere. If somebody holds the door open for you or hands you a sleeve for your Starbucks drink or lets you go ahead of them in line, don’t take those gestures for granted. A sincere thank you and a smile go a long way.
Being thankful has truly been a life-changer for me. I dare you to adjust your own focus and become intentionally grateful and see how it can change things for you too!