Did you just roll your eyes? Yeah, me too. I hate that phrase. Well-meaning folks tend to tell you to be grateful in the moments when that’s the last emotion you can muster. Maybe your client just hated all of your ideas and didn’t mince any words telling you. Maybe your car didn’t feel like working, and no one knew how to drive, and you left your lunch on the counter. Again. As marketers, we can admittedly be some of the most jaded people around—but we can improve our attitudes and our work in a pretty simple way.
Keeping a positive, grateful outlook can be one of the hardest and bravest things you do. Inspirational, Pinterest-board phrasing aside, cultivating a mindset of focusing on the positive can change how you deal with the hot mess life can turn into. How? Well here are five ways a grateful attitude can make your life more meaningful:
1. Gratitude makes us happier. Happy people are more likable and attract more happy people to be around. It increases our social capital and makes us nicer, more trusting, more appreciative, and more optimistic while strengthening our existing relationships.
And it’s not just mushy, gushy romantic relationships (although it helps those, too). It’s your coworkers, clients, superiors, and subordinates. By focusing on their strengths and positive contributions versus their shortcomings, it will make for more enjoyable interactions all the way around. Let’s face it, if you just focus on the negative, you’re probably not going to improve the situation; and who wants to be constantly criticized? You never rarely want to smack a genuinely happy person upside the head. Instead, their positive attitude general wears off on everyone around them.
2. Gratitude boosts our careers. Keeping a good outlook helps you network and helps you get mentors and proteges (see #1). In addition, it helps you become a more effective, productive manager.
Gratitude allows managers to focus on positively reinforcing good behavior. Whether it’s your employees or your clients, it makes them feel noticed and genuinely appreciated. Note: This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for constructive criticism. For the Parks & Recreation fans out there: try being more Chris Traeger and less Ron Swanson in the workplace and see how it changes how your employees/clients function. (If you aren’t a Parks & Recreation fan yet, all seasons are on Hulu, and I recommend binge-watching all seven seasons. But if you’re tight for time, start with season 2, episode 4 [“Practice Date”] because that’s when they really figure it out.)
It’s brave to give credit to others and can be scary; you might feel you’ll be overlooked if you don’t try to keep the sunshine for yourself. Trust your leadership, and trust your employees will function better when you give credit where credit is due.
Lastly, being grateful helps with your productivity by focusing your mental resources somewhere other than on yourself (this will be revisited with “being less of an asshat” in #4). By focusing on your work, and not on your insecurities, you’ll find more mental hours in the day and climb that chain of command in no time.
3. Gratitude boosts health. If you’re grateful for the meat sack you’re spending your life in, you’ll likely take better care of it. It means more time exercising, which leads to better sleep quality and more sleep…which leads to another thing to be grateful for!
And not just your physical health improves, your mental health will get a boost. You’ll be more relaxed, less depressed, and reportedly will have higher energy levels. Those higher energy levels translate into better physical care. And boom! The circle is complete.
4. Gratitude makes you less of an asshat. By sprinkling the sunshine that is gratitude, you’ll have a great appreciation for others and view them in a more positive light, also giving you less time to be self-centered. Think of it as filling up on Brussel sprouts: you’ll have less room for donuts. (Okay, that was a terrible analogy. Donuts are great. But talking smack isn’t.)
Gratitude is the mark of a confident person, leading to increased self-esteem. The more self-esteem you have, the less likely you are to react by lashing out with feelings of envy, tearing people down, or being an asshat.
5. Gratitude keeps you accountable. We all have goals with our careers, personal lives, or hobbies. By being grateful for the little victories along the way to get to your goal, you’re more likely to stick with it. Just like if you appreciate your physical body for just being able to get you up and out of the door in the morning, you’ll be more likely to treat it right and skip those delicious donuts with vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles that you can’t stop thinking about after #4.
So what does practicing gratitude look like? It’s really easy. If you find yourself going in a downward spiral of jerk-faceness, pause and list five things you’re grateful for. Take a few moments and really focus in on specific things, like the way your dog greets you when you get home, or the job that allows you to pay all your bills and live the life you lead. Or if you’re really desperate, just be grateful for electricity, the internet, the word “asshat,” or even the fact we have cheese as a delicious thing we can eat.
Go forth and bravely be grateful. I’ll add the fact that you read this article as one of the reasons I’ve got buckets of gratitude.