Every successful person has a productivity or happiness-boosting habit he or she swears by. Sir Richard Branson always gets up at 5 a.m. Oprah Winfrey claims living with intention is the foundation of her success. Tim Ferriss is a confirmed meditator.
But despite the differences in tastes and tactics between all these super successful individuals, there is at least one simple, daily habit that all of them engage in. "To achieve more, to be happy, and to make a difference, they consciously practice gratitude," claims entrepreneur Faisal Hoque in a recent Medium post.
In the piece, he explains that, for him personally, practicing gratitude has made the difference between success and failure. He then delves into why it's such a powerful habit to cultivate. The post goes into much greater depth on the subject, but here in brief are the five reasons Hoque believes that gratitude is the one essential habit for those hoping to accomplish impressive things:
- Gratitude grounds you in the present. If you're busy appreciating the present, you'll have less time and energy to waste worrying about the future or regretting the past. You'll also be more likely to spot opportunities when they present themselves. "Try it. Right now, stop and think about something that is making this very moment worth living. Gratefulness is the fuel to our inner energy," writes Hoque.
- Gratitude makes you happy. "Dr. Robert Emmons, in his book Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,shows that gratitude can increase happiness levels by 25 percent. His conclusion is based on research involving thousands of people around the world," Hoque reports.
- Gratitude strengthens relationships. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and everyone likes a person who shows appreciation.
- Gratitude makes you healthier. According to Hoque, scientific evidence proves that grateful people are not only resilient in the face of adversity, they're also physically healthier.
- Gratitude makes your brain work better. Hoque quotes Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas of the Greater Good Science Center: "In studies, after eight weeks of practice, brain scans of individuals who practice gratitude have stronger brain structure for social cognition and empathy, as well as the part of the brain that processes reward." Other researchers have come to similar conclusions.
Getting started with your own gratitude practice
If Hoque has convinced you that you should join Oprah and Sir Richard in a deliberate gratitude practice, there's plenty of advice out there to get you started. I recently wrote about great gratitude practices for holiday family gatherings. If you're looking to start a daily practice unrelated to the season, site Tiny Buddha, happiness app (yup, that exists) Happify, and even good old CNN have all offered tips on how to start living a more grateful life.