The reports are in. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are hearing more and and more about how having an attitude of gratitude enhances our lives – and our performance.
This is not some simple hack of Pollyanna thinking. Studies show that a sustained practice of gratitude improves heart health, increases resilience, improves sleep, provides great mental well-being, and even improves overall health and well-being.
Gratitude increases our emotional intelligence and empathy.
When we practice gratitude, we get out of our selfish center and notice what is around us. Including other people. I personally find gratitude grounds me. It literally causes me to slow down, lower my blood pressure, and calm my monkey mind.
Pausing is essential to building empathy. In order to see things from another person’s perspective, we’ve got to be able to SEE them, HEAR them, NOTICE their tone, body language, and facial expressions.
Steadying yourself to think about what you can be grateful for enables you to slow down enough to notice who and what is around you.
In my leadership trainings, I often talk about the need to slow down. Going so fast is making us less effective and productive. Quite frankly, when we’re racing (when I’m racing), I tend to do a half-a** job at any one thing! You may feel this, too.
I’ve talked about this with leaders on my podcast before. That need – but more importantly, that ability – to force yourself to slow down in the face of pressure, stress, and chaos. Some of the most impactful interviews I had about this were with Paul Marobella, when he spoke about leading through crisis. We’re talking 9/11, the financial downturn of 2008, and most recently COVID. And Chris L. Johnson, who speaks about how when leaders pause, they win. I highly recommend you check out their episodes.
This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. Despite this holiday being fraught with misinformation and revisionist history, I believe it’s valuable that we honor the truth AND take that needed step back to be thankful. Thankful for what we DO have, for those in our lives, for any privileges we enjoy, and to take that step back to slow down and use our senses.
That is how we can gain emotional regulation and connect better with those around us. Whether coworkers or community, friends, or family. Embrace gratitude wherever you can and see how it enhances your relationships with others and yourself going forward.
Photo credit: Maria Ross