Yes, you heard me right: increasing productivity with gratitude is, indeed, a highly effective process. Why? In a nutshell, giving and receiving thanks increases release of dopamine, therefore raising your energy. This neurotransmitter plays a critical role in the function of the central nervous system, and it is also linked with the brain's complex system of motivation and reward. Who doesn't feel more productive and content where higher levels of motivation and reward are involved?
In a long-term research project on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being, Professors Robert A. Emmons, University of California, and Michael E. McCullough, University of Miami have made some amazing discoveries. "Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions." says Professor Emmons. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
In similar studies, when medical doctors were gifted with small "goodie bags" of candy to express a patient's thanks prior to researching a diagnosis, performing procedures, and caring for the patients, these doctors were more likely to put in extra time with the family and toward the patient's improved health and recovery. A little thanks goes such a long way.
Now looking at these results you could surmise that, not only can you increase your own productivity through the power of gratitude, but that of others as well. And you would be right. How often do you think, "thank goodness for my virtual assistant," or "I'm so glad my Fed Express guy comes on time every day." Expressing your thanks in a simple manner feels good for both the recipient and the "giver" as it increases the production of the "feel good" neurotransmitter. The embedded memory of that positive state will stay with those individuals indefinitely. Those who receive your gratitude will show a higher likelihood of taking that extra step toward giving back.
Practice the power of gratitude in your life in these simple ways and let us know how you experience the positive impact.
Keep a simple gratitude journal. Every day write a brief sentence about 2 or 3 things that occurred in that day for which you are grateful. Simple things work, like a fun conversation with a friend or the fact that your 3 year old made it through the night without an accident! As you write about your experiences step into the gratitude feeling, think about how good it makes you feel - really experience it in your heart.
Add a simple sentence to the words "thank you" when you thank the people you encounter during the day. At the grocery checkout counter instead of going on autopilot and mumbling the expected thanks to the cashier, try something like "This job must get difficult at times, thanks for hanging in there." This will feel good for you and certainly for the cashier who probably hears little in the way of acknowledgment.
When you're at a stoplight, look around for something that brings a little joy to your heart. A flower bed of beautiful blooms; the sun setting on the horizon; a group of kids having a great time; or the mere fact that you are out of the house, are examples of things that can raise your internal energy — IF you take the time to express and feel your gratitude.
Send a card or small gift to someone, just "because." I have a friend who sends me cards on occasion and she inserts beautiful stickers, tea bags, sticky notes, packets of flower seeds, or other unexpected trinkets. What a lift it brings to my day!
Tell a client why you enjoy working with them as much as you do. Point out their unique qualities and express sincere thanks for the fact that you have this great working relationship. "Sincere" is the magic word here!
Well, you get the idea. What other ways do you experience the benefits of gratitude? Please share with us here on The Million $ Mindset for Solopreneurs!
Last updated: Sep 22, 2009
MARLA TABAKA is a small-business adviser who helps entrepreneurs around the globe grow their businesses well into the millions. She speaks widely on combining strategic and creative thinking for optimum success and happiness. @MarlaTabaka