If there was one change really worth making to improve your wellbeing at work where’s the best place to start? For example, should you be performing random acts of kindness, focusing on using your strengths or putting more jolts of joy into your day?
When I first started discovering the growing list of tested approaches I could try, it wasn’t long before my head was spinning at all the things I “should” be doing to improve my wellbeing and wondering how on earth I’d fit them all into my day and still get my work done.
So I decided to get back to basics and start with just one thing that could reduce my stress, boost my energy, give me hope, improve my relationships and help me feel happier and healthier at work. But could one approach do all of this?
It turns out there is one intervention that is amongst the most successful at promoting our wellbeing. Want to know what it is?
Can Gratitude Improve Your Wellbeing?
Professor Robert Emmons and his colleagues have found that gratitude is a kind of mega- strategy when it comes to our wellbeing. It appears feeling grateful for the good things around us and the sources of these good things has four important benefits.
Firstly, gratitude helps to magnify your positive emotions so you’re less likely to adapt to the good things happening in your life. It makes you appreciate the value of something, and when you appreciate the value of something, you extract more benefits from it; you’re less likely to take it for granted.
Secondly, gratitude helps you to block negative emotions like envy, resentment and regret. Studies found that if you’re grateful, you can’t resent someone for having something that you don’t.
Thirdly, gratitude helps you recover more quickly from stress, adversity and trauma by helping you interpret negative events. It has been found to give you a perspective to help guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.
And finally, gratitude gives you a higher sense of self-worth because you feel other people want good things for you. Once you start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life — once you realize that other people have seen the value in you — you can transform the way you see yourself.
But how can you use gratitude effectively at work without being judged as “too nice” or “too soft” in the process? In this episode of Chelle McQuaid TV, I’ll show you how to use gratitude at work to improve your wellbeing and get ahead at the same time.
How To Use Gratitude To Improve Your Wellbeing At Work
Professor Lea Waters at Melbourne University suggests encouraging a culture of gratitude at work can improve job satisfaction for employees across an organization. In fact, because we have a built in reciprocation mechanism when it comes to gratitude, it turns out this wellbeing intervention is highly contagious in workplaces.
I decided to put this to the test when I was the leader of small business team, relying on a large network of “volunteers” across our organization to deliver a difficult project in a culture that was quick to point out our mistakes, but slow to appreciate our strengths or efforts.
Within our small team we set ourselves a weekly gratitude challenge. It went like this:
- Find at least one person to thank for making your job a little easier or a little more enjoyable.
- Genuinely acknowledge their effort.
- Be specific about the strengths you saw them use.
It wasn’t enough to just say: “hey thanks for that”. Instead we recognized the value of investing a few seconds more and saying things like: “Hey thanks for that. I really appreciated your curiosity and the questions you asked in that meeting, it helped us have a much better conversation.”
We told no one about what we were doing, but in our team meeting each week we’d share who we thanked and why to keep each other accountable.
After about a month, a strange thing started to happen. A tidal wave of gratitude completely swept us off our feet.
Suddenly people were stopping us in the halls, phone calls were being made and emails were being sent. All to say thank you for the work we were doing on this project. Not just from people we’d thanked. But from people we hadn’t even gotten to yet.
This one act became instrumental in giving us the confidence, the hope and the motivation to not only deliver on time and on budget, but to exceed every external measure that had been set for us. Best of all we had a whole of lot of fun doing it.
To ignite gratitude in your workplace you don’t need anyone’s permission. You don’t need a budget. You just have to start noticing people who are making your life easier and more enjoyable and then genuinely acknowledge their effort and be specific about the strengths you’re seeing in action.
Read Robert’s book “Gratitude Works!”. See Lea talking about the power of gratitude at work. Or spread a little gratitude using online tools like The Gratitude Bucket or across your organization with games like WooBoard.
How do you bring a little gratitude into your work?