“Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.”
Thanksgiving is a time when we are encouraged to be grateful for our blessings. And gratitude is a practice that we cultivate all year long, from our weekly team meetings and advisor events (which all begin with sharing positive focus) to my own daily gratitude practice and habits. No matter what the day brings—blessings, challenges or changes—I greet it with gratitude!
And gratitude isn’t just something that makes us feel good. There are concrete benefits to being grateful that translate into real-world prosperity and well-being. Pam Grout, author of Thank and Grow Rich: A 30-Day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy (we loved her title so much we borrowed part of it) says that “Gratitude is causative energy. It plants seeds that grow into unlimited abundance.” She points out that being thankful can increase many different kinds of capital: financial, spiritual, social, creative, even adventure capital!
Here are seven reasons to be grateful any time of year:
1. Gratitude wires your brain for increased productivity and profits.
As we reported in “Happy Wealth: The Surprising Secret to More Sales, Success and Satisfaction,” renown positive psychologist Shawn Achor uses daily gratitude practices (along with other habits) to help people change their thinking and behavior for the better. Some of the results his research has demonstrated include:
- productivity improves by 37%
- sales increase by 37%
- accuracy on tasks improves by 19%
- people have 23% greater energy in the midst of stress, and
- employees are 40% more likely to be promoted.
Whether Achor was working with students, salespeople, CEOs, people in the US, Europe, or impoverished areas in Africa, he found that habits that cultivate gratitude benefit everyone. (Read about the five happy habits Achor teaches that led to these outcomes.)
2. People want to do business with those who are happy and grateful.
I remember once when Todd and I went into a store with Alpaca sweaters and other goods… the kind of thing I might be likely to purchase! But the owners had what I call a scarcity mindset, which was constantly verbalized—they weren’t doing well in business, but they didn’t want to advertise online or take pictures of the designs (or let anyone else, like me, take pictures) because they were so afraid someone would steal their ideas. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough!
It is a toxic mindset to be so protective of your own ideas that you greet even potential customers and collaborators with suspicion. On the other hand, people love frequenting businesses that demonstrate gratitude for customers and clients! Furthermore, business owners who express gratitude for their employees will have less turnover and greater loyalty.
3. People want to work with people who are happy and grateful.
Not only do employees prefer to work for grateful people, they like working with grateful people who have a positive attitude, who collaborate, don’t complain, and do what needs to be done with a smile.
Our team members like working together because we strive to keep an atmosphere of cooperation and problem-solving, not complaints and negativity. In a workplace, one “bad apple” can spoil the whole bunch by whining and complaining. (Then the Negative Nelly’s wonder why they aren’t promoted or recommended, or find themselves looking for work again… something more to complain about!)
4. Happy and grateful teens grow up to earn 10% more than their peers.
There is much research showing that happy and grateful people earn more, but is that causation or correlation? To answer this, one study began measuring life satisfaction prior to earning, following students for over a decade.
According to Business Insider, the study found that students aged 16-18 who described themselves as “very happy” ended up with greater life satisfaction at age 22, and incomes that were 10% higher than the average at age 29.
5. Gratitude changes your focus to what you have, not what you’re missing.
It’s possible to be rich and miserable, economically wealthy yet lonely, financially free and sad at the same time. It’s also possible to live “paycheck to paycheck” and be incredibly grateful that you have a job and your bills are being paid. And regardless of your current situation, gratitude sets you up for future success.
Gratitude makes people more optimistic and positive. It improves relationships, which we now know are strongly correlated with financial success, as well as health, happiness and longevity. And according to Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng, authors of Picture Your Prosperity, grateful people are less likely to engage in “retail therapy” and purchase things they don’t need. And that can help them save more!
The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter how much you have if you don’t appreciate it! Without gratitude, you’ll never feel successful, no matter how much you have. So regardless of your level of financial success, practicing gratitude is essential.
6. Gratitude pays spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical dividends.
Gratitude opens the door for good results in every area of life. Not only can gratitude can increase your financial wealth, it increases your well-being spiritually, mentally, socially, and physically. THIS makes for a truly rich life!
Successful business owner May McCarthy describes in her book, The Path to Wealth, how her own gratitude practice has led to increased spiritual connection, prosperity, and a well-honed intuition.
Research over the last several years has shown overwhelming benefits. The Wall Street Journal reports that an attitude of gratitude can help people experience more energy, greater optimism, more social connections, and, of course, more happiness. In Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine, gratitude researcher Robert Emmons says that those who practice gratitude consistently:
- are more helpful, generous and compassionate
- are more forgiving of others
- experience greater joy and pleasure
- are more outgoing and less likely to feel lonely or isolated
- have stronger immune systems
- experience fewer aches and pains
- report lower blood pressure and
- sleep more soundly.
7. Gratitude turns us into givers—and that benefits everyone!
Proverbs 11:25-31 says, “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.” As Bob Burg points out in his classic business parable, The Go Giver, the biggest givers are the ones who open themselves up to be the biggest receivers.
However, let’s never forget: helping others is reason enough to give generously! The good gifts of the givers among us fund our churches and non-profits, help those in need, and make the world a better place.
How to Be Grateful
Would you like more gratitude in your life? Here are some thoughts to get you stated.
Gratitude is a shift in thought.
My friend Jordan Adler is a helicopter pilot. He talks about how a shift in thought can move the helicopter, they are that sensitive!
We should also be sensitive to notice when we need a shift in direction. Feeling angry, negative, or just “blah?” Shift your thoughts to what you are grateful for! And while you can always fall back on everyday blessings—family, health, home, etc.—try coming up with new things to be grateful for each day.
Gratitude is a habit that requires discipline.
Author and award-winning sales blogger Geoffrey James says it’s helpful to think of gratitude as an emotional muscle that will grow and strengthen with intentional use. I agree! Make gratitude a habit by starting a gratitude journal, incorporating gratitude into your morning routine practice, or perhaps by having a gratitude buddy who you can email daily.
Gratitude is a habit for me, one that I practice every morning as part as my morning routine, as well as in our team meetings and throughout each day. (I even practice gratitude when I’m standing in line at the grocery store, which I don’t enjoy doing, but positive focus makes it easier!)
It’s a habit I impressed on my children as well. When they received gifts for their birthdays or Christmas, they would write thank-you notes before they even enjoyed playing with or wearing the new gift. My kids are grown now, and gratitude is a habit for them, too.
Choose gratitude now.
Don’t wait for things to “get easier” or until you “feel like” being grateful. Gratitude is not just warm fuzzy thoughts, and it’s certainly not to be used to avoid problems and pain. Rather, gratitude makes dealing with the difficult things easier. So be grateful when things are challenging, when you don’t feel like it, or when you miss that goal. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Gratitude is a choice; one that we make every moment of every day. I hope you’ll choose gratitude today and every day.
Happy Thanksgiving from Kim Butler and the whole team at Partners for Prosperity! We are so grateful for YOU.