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August 25, 2014

How Gratitude Can Help You in Business

Happiness is the reason we do most things in our life, including starting our own business. If we think about why we want something, it’s because we ultimately think it will make us happier. I’ve recently started reading The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, which is a really interesting book. It talks about how 60% of our happiness is wired in our DNA (which explains why some people have an easier time looking on the bright side) and 40% can be gained through strategies and new ways of thinking.

The results are based on years of groundbreaking scientific research so each fact is backed up by hard proof. Here are 8 reasons, outlined in the book, on why practicing gratitude is so amazing and how we believe it will help you with your business.

It helps you appreciate what you have, right now – we have a tendency to look back and think about how good we had it or think about the future and how good we will have it but forget about today. Finding things to be grateful for right now reminds us to be in this moment and appreciate it.

It boosts your confidence – stopping and looking what you have makes you realize just how much you already have. Sometimes we set goals and feel like we’re not worthy until we reach them. But it’s important to stop and think about the past goals you’ve already achieved to get where you are and realized how much you’ve accomplished. There was a time when just getting your business started was a goal. Pat yourself on the back for that.

It will help you cope with stressful situations and move on – sometimes we need to remember how much worse it could be to appreciate the situation we’re in. When you’re dealing with a tough situation, force yourself to find 3 things you’re grateful for to help shift your mind from “everything is horrible” to “everything is going to be okay”. This in turn with open your mind to thinking of ways to fix things. You can’t find a solution when you're focused on how bad things are.

Keeps us focused on the bigger picture – any business is about growing. Usually that means dollar wise so it’s easy for us to start focusing on money and losing sight of what’s really important in life and why we started our business in the first place. Gratitude helps us do that and keeps us grounded.

You’ll build stronger relationships – even if you don’t express it to the other person, when you feel gratitude towards others in your life, you’ll start to truly value them and feel closer to them. This is especially important if you’re in business with a family member.

Helps to stop you from comparing yourself with others – this is a big one for businesses. Comparing yourself to someone else in a position you would like to be in makes you feel like you’re not good enough. Being grateful and celebrating what you have makes you less likely to envy what others have.

It stops the negative emotions– it’s impossible to experience opposite emotions at the same time. So when you practice gratitude, you automatically diminish negative feelings. That’s the first step in turning any situation around.

It keeps you out of happiness ruts – humans are built to adapt, which means that when something makes us happy in life: a new customer, reaching a goal or moving into a new office space, that happiness is short lived. Gratitude helps us constantly be aware of the things in our lives that make us happy, not just when something good happens.

On that note, there was another really interesting study that showed how practicing gratitude too often doesn’t have the same benefits. Participants in one study were asked to recall events in the past week and write down 5 things that they were grateful for. Half did this exercise once a week and the other half did it 3 times a week. The group that counted their blessings 3 times a week didn’t find a benefit to it while those who expressed gratitude just once a week reported feeling happier. They believe that people who did it too often looked at it as a chore and became bored with it.

Try keeping a journal and choosing a night, once a week, to write down 3 – 5 things you’re grateful for in your life. Not only will this improve your outlook, it just might improve your business too!

Image courtesySicha Pongjivanich/

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