Today I’d like to talk to you a little bit about gratitude. As Thanksgiving and the holiday season approach, I think it’s a good time to take some time to think about what we’re grateful for, whether that be our good health, our education that allowed us to be where we are today, our families, our colleagues, our clients, and more.
Some of the leading studies on gratitude were done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, and the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies positive psychology
These studies and others have shown the benefits of gratitude and bottom line: gratitude is good for business. Studies have shown that people who are grateful on a daily basis show boosts in both productivity and well-being. Other studies have even showed a beneficial effect on physical health, including reduced inflammation and better eating habits.
As lawyers, we’re taught to look often at the down-side – what could go wrong? Where might a project fail? What risks are inherent in a particular activity? How can we protect ourselves? This habit of negative thinking can be detrimental to our health as well as our productivity. Expressing gratitude on a daily basis is one way to combat that.
Here are three ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily or weekly routine:
Write a thank-you note. You can do this by email, but a handwritten note will likely have more meaning. You can write a thank-you note to a client for their business, to a referral source for their support, or even to an old teacher or mentor letting them know how much they meant to you and your career. Write a thank-you note to a colleague who covered you for a court appearance or to your assistant for always being on time. Write a thank-you note to your spouse who is always understanding when you have to work late. The possibilities are endless.
Keep a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy or extensive. It can take just 5-15 minutes every day to write down a few sentences about what you’re grateful for. A quick and easy way to do this is just to jot down three things you’re grateful for every day. They can be as simple as being grateful that the sun is shining or the traffic was light on your commute to work. It can be a wonderful way to start or end your day on a positive note. Studies have shown that those who kept a gratitude journal for three weeks or more experienced a decrease in stress levels.
Practice gratitude daily. Make sincere gratitude a part of your everyday life. When saying “thank you” to someone, be specific about what they did and what it meant to you. Seek out opportunities to be grateful every day.
What are you thankful for? Who will you thank today?