Lessons from Leaders: #5 Gratitude

The secret to success is gratitude

a coffee cup and a thank you note as a sign of gratitude

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I’ve talked previously about the importance of heliotropic leadership, neuroplasticity and how to lift your mood in 60 seconds.

But today I want to talk about the importance of gratitude and even a gratitude diary/journal. There is no doubt that gratitude is good for you.

The idea of a gratitude diary isn’t a new one, but it’s one that has become increasingly popular.

You can make a gratitude diary out of a plain notebook or you can buy a specially printed one. The advantage of a preprinted gratitude diary is that it might ask you questions or give you prompts which you wouldn’t normally think of yourself.

It depends on how much you want to invest your time into it, but they also make great gifts.

There’s also the advantage of technology now, which means there are a whole host of gratitude apps available. These are great too because you are able to take pictures of things.

Speaking personally, I prefer the act of writing. Putting pen to paper makes it more of a commitment. Ink is much closer to blood than typing into a smartphone!

The benefits

A gratitude diary encourages you to make a commitment to your positive mindset. Making a habit of journaling what you are grateful for on a daily basis, reinforces a virtuous circle of positivity.

We’ve talked about The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor before, but it argues the fact that focusing on your positives creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s just like exercising, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. And as well as exercise, it creates a healthier body/mind.

man writing in a gratitude diary or journal

A gratitude diary brings with it a lot of extra benefits:

  •       It helps you to learn about yourself – it makes you appreciate the things that other people do for you, which you value, and the things you do for yourself.
  •       It teaches you to be more forgiving – if you are grateful for more things in life, it will put bad situations into perspective.
  •       It brings happiness – it makes you enjoy life and relish the small things.
  •       The more appreciation you have for something and the more reciprocation you have for people, the more your relationships will flourish.

Recognising credit, where credit is due, and being grateful for others, has never been more important than it is right now.

I belong to a number of organisations where I can talk to peers, and one of the biggest concerns that people have right now is for their colleagues as they come out of lockdown. Will their mental health have suffered from being furloughed for almost a year?

Others have had so much constant disruption to their routine: furloughed, un-furloughed, flexi-furlough, working from home, commuting…it’s been a lot for people to deal with.

Stress, self-esteem and sleep

A gratitude diary, I have found, actually helps to reduce stress.

It allows you to relish the things you enjoy and encourages you to take care of yourself and those around you.

It also boosts your self-esteem, because if you are grateful for things you are less likely to compare yourself to others.

In a world where “influencers” are a thing, if you have higher self-esteem, it reduces the risk of social comparison.

We all know that a lot of the stuff we see on social media is only people presenting the highlights of their lives and not the full picture, but it can really damage people’s outlook on their own life if they have low self-esteem.

Less stress and higher self-esteem will help contribute to a better nights sleep.

Sleep is important because a deep sleep means you feel better the next morning, you’re better prepared for the day ahead and you are more in tune with your positive mindset.

Business

Whether it’s a compliment to a supplier or a thank you to a customer it all helps. A thank you goes a long way. Being grateful is a great way to improve your business relationships as well as your personal ones.

Gratitude and appreciation have a ripple effect, like a stone splashing into a still lake. Its effect carrying right up to the shore. Remembering to be grateful only serves to make you a better person in yourself, and in the eyes of others.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Subscribe to email notifications to be told when we publish a new blog! You can find the first instalment of the Lessons from Leaders series here.