Thanksgiving has arrived, and with it the season of gratitude and giving.
The Thanksgiving holiday inaugurates the season of gratitude and giving, and there is so much to be thankful for at Impact Hub Boston. Taking a look around our bustling, ever-expanding coworking community, I see people who take time out of their days to help each other, celebrate each other’s wins, and console each other in times of loss. What I see is a tight-knit community fueled by passion and inspired by gratitude. With the holiday season quickly approaching, the timing could not be better to acknowledge and appreciate the kind actions that bring us together and learn more about how we can continue to practice gratitude in our professional and personal lives throughout the year.
What does it mean to practice gratitude?
Simply put, practicing gratitude happens when we take time to acknowledge our successes and the successes of others. Internally, you can practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect on the things in your life that you are thankful for. Externally, you can recognize others and say thank you. (For example, I noticed that you’re reading this blog post and I really appreciate it. Thank you!)
Why is it so important?
Did you know that researchers have conducted studies on the practice of gratitude? In one study based on more than 1,000 people aged 8 to 80, they found that people who regularly practice gratitude get better sleep, experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, express more compassion and kindness towards others, and get sick less often. These grateful individuals experienced increased energy, optimism, and empathy for others as well.
Beyond that, “gratitude facilitates a transformation; a before and after. It helps us create the transformations that we want to see in our lives,” says longtime gratitude guru Derrick Duplessy. In both personal and professional settings, Derrick believes that gratitude can be used as a tool. He says, “Whatever transformation you want to create, whether from lead to customer or acquaintance to friend, gratitude is a way to get there.”
How can you practice gratitude?
The benefits of practicing gratitude are numerous, and the best part? Practicing gratitude is not a hard thing to do. In fact, we have a 7 easy ideas here to get you started if you’re feeling like you want to amp up the thankfulness factor in your life.
- Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal. Track your personal and professional achievements and things that others have done that you are thankful for in your gratitude journal at the end of each day. In the morning of the next day, take a look back at your entry from the day before and let that success and kindness shine through into the day.
- Create Gratitude Habits. One way to do this is to challenge yourself to give at least one compliment to someone each day. After you have this down, you can increase the number of compliments you give each day. Another approach for this can be expressed in doing at least one selfless act for someone else each day. This can be as simple as taking out the garbage for your partner or holding the door open for a stranger.
- Make a Gratitude Jar. Put notes of gratitude into a jar and pick a special date or several dates each year to go through the jar.
- Send Gratitude Emails, Texts, or Letters. Derrick challenged himself to this gratitude challenge and experienced some pretty amazing outcomes. He sent very short emails to a group of people that he hadn’t spoken to in a while simply asking them for an update on what they have been up to. This was an easy way to acknowledge others, and in effect it created an overwhelming circle of gratitude. You can read more about how he did this and the amazing results that came from it on his Gratefulness.org blog post.
- Turn Negatives into Positives and Weaknesses into Strengths. Identify something in your life that you view as a negative event. Ask yourself what you learned from this event that you may not have learned otherwise. Can you think of ways that you created positivity in your life through the experience, perhaps through the development of strength and resilience, gain of knowledge, or opportunities to educate others?
- Make a Positivity Vow. Challenge yourself to not complain, criticize or gossip for a week. Notice how you feel after the week, and see how long you can keep your positivity vow going.
- Join a Cause. Team up with others who care about something important to you and are working on making an actionable difference. You’ll feel the benefits of gratitude when you donate your time, resources, and/or skills to something you and others care about.
When you see what you’ve completed a gratitude challenge, perhaps inspired by one of the actions above, make sure that you take a moment to appreciate and acknowledge your own hard work. This in itself is a great way to double the gratitude you cultivated from completing the challenge in the first place.
When is the right time to practice gratitude?
How about right now? Practicing gratitude does not need to be reserved for holidays or special occasions. In fact, you may even get more out of giving thanks when it’s least expected. Get spontaneous and go after it. You will certainly delight others, and you may even surprise yourself with the way it makes you feel.
Happy Thanksgiving from Impact Hub Boston to you. We noticed your awesomeness, and we like it. Keep it up and have a wonderful holiday!