Gratitude is a concept that is not new. In fact, it’s a foundational tenant for many spiritual practices and lifestyles that go back centuries. However, it receives increasing attention as a contributing factor for positive mental health with benefits that stretch across mental, emotional, professional realms.
This world of gratitude stretches beyond the manners your parents instilled–although regularly extending thanks to those around you certainly proves positive on many levels–it is seen as a life perspective, a training of our minds to see the good, (even and especially during setback, difficulty, and failure) and intentionally acknowledge it.
This is a mental health topic that is of particular importance to entrepreneurs and professions where risk is inherent, setback inevitable, and relationships critical. It’s understandably difficult to exist (positively) in a world where many things are uncertain and your success depends in part on variables outside of your control. It can be a slippery slope to feeling jaded, skeptical, and negative which is a mindset that we can all agree (albeit understandable) is bad for personal and professional wellbeing.
Last week, Entrepreneur featured a piece on mistakes and working to take mistakes in stride. The NYT best selling author, entrepreneur, and coach Lewis Howell, challenges readers and listeners to strive for gratitude in the face of mistakes and to, “see it as an opportunity to learn and let it add fuel to your fire to become better.” This 5 minute episode packs a punch and is well worth a listen as it explains the why and how of turning mistakes into gratitude specifically as entrepreneurs.
On a related and practical note, Greater Good Magazine which shares “Science based insights for a meaningful life” provides helpful tips for keeping a gratitude journal in this article by Jason Marsh. He explains, “Over the past decade, they’ve not only identified the great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks; they’ve zeroed in on some concrete practices that help us reap those benefits.”
Keeping a gratitude journal is fairly simple and easily personalized to fit your life, available time, and preferences (hand written, typed, daily, weekly, etc.). Marsh explains, “The entries are supposed to be brief—just a single sentence—and they range from the mundane (“waking up this morning”) to the sublime (“the generosity of friends”) to the timeless (“the Rolling Stones”).”
While ultimately it is the training of our minds to be more aware of the opportunity for gratitude versus discouragement, self-doubt, and isolation–the writing itself is seen as a catalyst for this so keeping a gratitude journal is an evidenced based practice worth trying. Robert Emmons an expert on the science of gratitude explains, “Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context…In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.”
Similar to other mental health practices we have encouraged here, there are multiple benefits of gratitude when practiced regularly including but not limited to improving sleep, empathy, relationships, mental acuity and strength, self esteem while also reducing conflict, aggression, depression, and discouragement. We know that our readers are sharp individuals that don’t need us to explain the likely connection to increased success in the business world that comes in connection with self-improvements and change of this nature.
So go ahead give it a whirl–you don’t have to wait until November to say what you’re thankful for. In fact if you start today, by November you may be experiencing a world drawn to opportunity, learning, and potential in all things big and small.
Who knows how that may transform your personal and professional world–You can thank us later.