In training and coaching leaders, I invariably get pulled into a discussion about entitlement. “Millennials…” and “Kids these days…” Some even claim it is a societal issue. I can’t really disagree as 1st graders are handed trophies they can barely carry to the car after finishing last in the town soccer league. So, what can we do about it? What kind of example are we setting for those we lead and influence? Could gratitude be the answer? If so, we’ll gain much more than grateful attitudes around the office and dinner table.
What Gratitude Can Do For You
Research clearly shows that gratitude is linked with better health and well-being. People who cultivate gratitude experience benefits in these 3 main areas.
- Exercise more
- Less bothered by aches and pains
- Take better care of their health
- In one study, participants demonstrated 10-15% lower blood pressure
- Sleep 10% more and feel more refreshed than control groups
- These benefits range from 10 – 30% greater than control groups
- More positive emotions such as joy and pleasure
- More alive, awake and focused
- Increased life satisfaction
- These benefits are 25% greater than control groups
- Demonstrate more pro-social behaviors such as compassion, generosity, kindness
- More outgoing
- Feel less lonely and isolated
- Better relationships
I found the above benefits pretty astonishing. All this from being more grateful. Most of this has been shown in multiple studies with people ranging in age from 8 to 80 according to UC Berkley professor, Dr. Robert Emmons, author of Thanks! and Gratitude Works!. Add that to more selfless actions and less whining and entitlement. Count me in!
How You Can Develop Gratitude
I tend to get caught up in the hustle and busyness of daily life, work projects, to-do lists. I want things done now. Patience wears thin and I easily overlook just how blessed and fortunate I truly am. Just the fact that I have this MacBook Pro on which to write this blog indicates that I’m better off than much of the world’s population. If you’re at all like me, you could use a gratitude boost too.
Dr. Emmons’ and his colleague’s #1 strategy for increasing gratitude (and getting all the awesome benefits above) is to keep a Gratitude Journal. This is the same strategy used in many of their research studies.
To keep a Gratitude Journal, you’ll need to:
#1. Identify a place or space to keep your Gratitude Journal.
For me, this will be within my normal daily journal that I spend time in each morning. Digital, pen and pad, it doesn’t matter; just do it.
#2. Commit to logging 3-5 things everyday that you are grateful for.
You could note good things that happen, how fortunate you are, recognizing the kindness of someone else, seeing an opportunity in a challenging situation or blessings you’ve received.
#3. Share what you are grateful for. (Optional)
Maybe this is around the break room at work or the breakfast table with your family. Be creative. This is a great way to encourage others to increase their gratitude too.
I am committing to becoming less entitled and more grateful in my own life. Hopefully, my words and actions will influence those around me. What about you? What example are you setting? I invite you to join me on a journey to replace entitlement with gratitude. We’ll all be better off for our efforts.
Question: What is one thing you are grateful for today? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Let’s spread the gratitude!
- Article: Counting Blessings Versus Burdens by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough
- Article: 10 Ways to Become More Grateful by Robert Emmons
- Book: Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons
- Book: Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity by Robert Emmons
- Video: Cultivating Gratitude by Robert Emmons
- For more publications about Gratitude, click here.