With the privilege of working with leaders and what makes human beings hum or stall all these years, I’m fascinated with Gratitude as a lead force that greases the wheels for all good things to flow.
Here are nuggets from Gratitude research relevant to health, happiness, human effectiveness, and organizational success. Take a look at these bullets. If we had a pill for this, wow! Of course we don’t start each day intending to have “negative thoughts.” It’s more like a default current inside our brains and out there in cultural norms. Heck, Positive Psychology is still a relatively new movement! So, a proactive Gratitude habit is essential, preventive healthcare and definitely a key ingredient in our new ways for working smart, inspired leadership and sustainable success.
Research on “side effects” of Gratitude (work, organizational context):
higher levels of life satisfaction and optimism
greater energy and connections with other people.
productive and happy people within an organization.
improve one’s physical health and functioning, positive changes in cardiovascular and immune system
reducing stress and consequent related healthcare costs
help one adapt to life’s challenges, reduce resentment and increase acceptance, thus lead to positive organizational outcomes.
What role could Gratitude play in sustaining the health and survival of organizations? It would certainly be good news if these personal benefits of gratitude could in turn increase organizational citizenship behavior in particular, since empirical evidence indicates that citizenship actions within organizations positively influence a number of key organizational outcomes. These include improved work group productivity, enhanced sales team performance, profitability, and operational efficiencies.
In a fascinating longitudinal study, people who expressed gratitude, happiness, and positive emotions in their earlier years were found to live an average of up to ten years longer than their peers who did not express gratitude.
Through conducting highly focused, cutting-edge studies on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its consequences, we hope to shed important scientific light on this important concept.
People who kept Gratitude journals, or other Gratitude practices ( compared to recording hassles or just neutral life events):
exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week
more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals
higher levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy
more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another
high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life,
better sleep duration and sleep quality
Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families
Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.
more capacity to be empathic and to take the perspective of others. They are rated as more generous and more helpful by people in their social networks
are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnectedness of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others
place less importance on material goods; less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; less envious of others; more likely to share their possessions with others
So, are you interested in any of these “side effects” ? Geez – is this a no brainer incentive to get (or enhance) a Gratitude habit going? Let’s all do it together. In one study these benefits were reported from subjects writing down 5 things per week. That’s it? Imagine 5 minutes per day! Go for it. Let me know if you’d like more specific tools, ideas for a gratitude habit for you or your workplace. I would love to hear your ideas, comments, Q’s.
Note: I wrote the original version of this article back in 2011, and new research, e.g. this example from Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is even more exciting.
Earlier Research Source links: