“Gratitude is the best medicine. It heals your mind, your body, and your spirit. And attracts more things to be grateful for.”
2020 has been a tough year to be thankful for. For many of us, it has been one of the toughest years we can remember.
But, despite all the hard times, we can always find things to be thankful for. Philippians 4:8 tells us to continually think about things that are “pure, lovely and praiseworthy.”
It requires practice, but we can train our minds to look for the good. It is a habit we can build. And it is one of the most profitable habits we can create.
Thankfulness leads to happiness and happiness is a competitive advantage at home and work.
Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and the best selling author of “The Happiness Advantage” and “Before Happiness.”
Achor’s research has shown that happiness raises every business and educational outcome. His research shows that increased happiness at work raises:
1. Sales by 37%.
2. Productivity by 31%.
3. Accuracy by 19%.
And creates a myriad of health and quality of life improvements.
Early in his career, Shawn wanted a tough test subject to prove his theories so he selected the auditing and tax firm KPMG – during tax season.
January through April is the most stressful time for tax managers (just ask my wife). Shawn put half the KPMG managers through a three-hour introduction to positive psychology that taught them how to apply the principles at work.
He then evaluated all the managers three times – before the training, a week after the training, and four months later (after tax season). He used a battery of standard metrics including life satisfaction measures, perceived stress, social support, perceived effectiveness at work and optimism.
Every single positive metric improved significantly at the first test – one week after training. The real question was whether the improvements would hold after the grind of tax season.
Amazingly, the positive effect was still there after tax season. Most importantly, the manager’s life satisfaction scores (which indicated personal and professional happiness) were much higher at the end of tax season when compared to the scores before receiving the training.
A three-hour training and a non-mandatory invitation to create a positive habit for 21 days created a high ROI in the short and long term.
How can you get some of this happiness mojo in your life (and maybe your company)? Below are the five suggestions given to the KPMG managers that caused the positive changes.
1. Every day, write down three new things you are grateful for that occurred in the past 24 hours;
2. Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;
3. Exercise for 10 minutes a day;
4. Meditate for two minutes a day, focusing on your breath going in and out;
5. Write one, quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising a member of your team.
If you want extra happiness, productivity and success try adding these items to your routine:
– Set an alarm on your phone that reminds you to be thankful or pray (or both) six times per day. It only takes a few seconds to remind yourself of something positive that recently happened and to be thankful for it.
– Consume less information. Embrace silence and fill that void with gratitude and prayer. Turn off the radio, the news, podcast or audiobook.
– Chose a better reality. Our happiness is not based on what happens to us, but on how we perceive what happened. Search for the good in whatever circumstance you are in.
– Embrace the process. Trust the outcomes will be good – when they come. Don’t be disappointed because the outcomes are not here yet.
I love this quote from C.S. Lewis that sounds as if the guy was a positive psychology researcher.
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is that what one calls interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”
On this Thanksgiving week let's go beyond being thankful for just this season. Let’s make thankfulness and happiness a habit.
I am very thankful for the opportunity to write in this great paper every week and to you for reading it. Thank you.
From my family to yours, we hope you have a very blessed Thanksgiving!
If you are ready to get started creating more meaning (and happiness) in your organization, check out our free resources at - https://valuesdrivenresults.com/resource-library/.
We love helping leaders build great businesses. If you’d like to learn more, you can check out our free resources at www.valuesdrivenresults.com/resource-library/ or give us a call at (229) 244-1559. We’d love to help you in any way we can.
Curt Fowler is president of Fowler & Company and director at Fowler, Holley, Rambo & Stalvey. He is dedicated to helping leaders build great organizations and better lives for themselves and the people they lead.
Curt is a syndicated business writer, keynote speaker, and business advisor. He has an MBA in strategy and entrepreneurship from the Kellogg School, is a CPA and a pretty good guy as defined by his wife and four children.