John Kralik didn’t think he had much to be grateful for. He was miserable, broke, overweight and living in a run-down apartment. While hiking one new year’s day he made a resolution to write a thank you note every day for that year, and that simple habit changed his life. Writing the notes gave him a positive focus that made him realise just how much he had in his life to be grateful for, and this habit which extended way beyond a year, led to him writing, A simple Act of Gratitude.
Since 2003 there has been an explosion of research carried out on gratitude and the ability it has to transform lives, and while being grateful is a great habit, the time when we need to practise it the most is when our life is not all that we want it to be.
Prior to starting Hart Life Coaching I felt so demoralised. I had lost money, prestige and confidence when I was reduced to working as a bookkeeper for a pitiful hourly rate. In my former life I had earned thousands for a one hour talk, had a regular spot on TV and my opinion was sought after. Then I was nobody reduced to working for $17 an hour. My fall from grace turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me because it motivated me to shift my focus off what was wrong and onto being kind and grateful for what I had.
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation. Appreciation, kindness, caring, compassion are all emotions that lift the electromagnetic field that our hearts produce which in turn draws good things to us. I had only been focusing on gratitude and being kind to others for a few weeks when, out of the blue, a stranger rang and asked me to ghost write a book. That one opportunity led to other opportunities and within months I was able to leave bookkeeping behind and do work that I love again.
Research has confirmed that gratitude at work:
Boosts pro-social behaviour
Promotes deeper relationships
Fosters kindness and new friendships
Strengthens existing friendships
If you aren’t in love with your work, if you want to start your own business but haven’t been able to yet, focus your attention on gratitude. Gratitude is not about you, it’s about other people. Simple acts of kindness and gratitude leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. When I was stuck in jobs I didn’t really care for I looked for ways to make other people happy. I would pay the bridge toll for the person behind me, I bought flowers for the receptionist, I told people how much I appreciated them. I started giving thanks in advance for the things I wanted as if I already had them.
When we get stressed, we sometimes feel as if we are moving backwards, so by bringing some heart energy into our daily interactions we become refreshed, happier and we feel good about ourselves. And the bonus is that we make other people feel good as well.
Being grateful at work isn’t about adding another thing to your ‘to do’ list. It’s about developing an attitude that looks for the good first, and it’s always a good idea to support the development of gratitude with a habit. Every time I drive past the beautiful bay near my home, I give thanks for the privilege of living here. I have two cats that love to sit on my lap, and I give thanks every time I stroke them for the love they give me. I give thanks before I go to sleep each night. And I give thanks for all the wonderful people who choose to train with my company every time I walk into my office.
David Steindl-Ras,a Catholic Benedictine monk and author said, “If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people, and you are respectful to everybody, and that changes this power pyramid under which we live.”