I remember singing a hymn called “Count Your Blessings” in church as a kid. I always enjoyed singing it during the worship service, hearing the bass singers in the congregation boom out the repeat. I didn’t pay much attention to the words, though.
But one day as a young adult, I was having a bad day. The song came to mind. I literally sat down with a piece of paper and started listing all the good things in my life. You probably know the end of this story, but I didn’t at the time. It was like magic! By the time I was done, my mood had lifted. Life was bearable, even hopeful.
And yes, it seems like every self-help guru these days, whether discussing mental health or how to build your business encourages “gratitude practices.”
So, what’s all the hype?
Gratitude is a Mood Hack
Into life hacks? Check this out: Three groups in a study each had a weekly writing assignment:
- Group A would write about things they were grateful for during the week,
- Group B would write about their daily irritations and frustrations, and
- Group C would write about things, either positive or negative, that affected them.
After 10 weeks, guess which group felt more optimistic and happier, exercised more, and had fewer doctor visits?
It wasn’t Group B! Surprise, surprise—it was Group A.
Gratitude is Not a Luxury
Harvard Health Publishing described the study in an article, noting that “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.”
But gratitude is not just a fun “extra” to add to your life. In fact, “[Gratitude] is not . . . a luxury. It is a coping strategy. And it works,” writes Polly Campbell for Psychology Today.
Writing about relationships, Dr. Henry Cloud writes that imperfections in another person should not keep you from being thankful for that person. You can take that concept and apply it to life or work. How?
- Write a note to someone you appreciate. Send it to them.
- Mentally thank someone from your past who you now realize impacted you.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Follow my example: count your blessings! Make a list on a piece of paper of every good thing in your life, and then tally them all up. (Start small if necessary—can you see? Walk? Breathe on your own? Some people can’t, so if you can . . . )
- If you believe in God, pray prayers of thankfulness.
- Meditate. I have a meditation app on my phone, and it gives me the option of “gratitude” meditations.
Gratitude Works for Your Business
Yes, really. Expressing gratefulness in a professional setting capitalizes on three elements that cement memories, explain Chester Elton and Jon Picoult, in a piece for LinkedIn. Those elements are:
- Surprise! People don’t expect authentic gratitude in the workplace.
- Emotion. A sincere “thank you” elicits a positive emotional response from the person you thank.
- Singling out the person. Feel underappreciated? That is common in the workforce. When you thank a person for what she did—not just a generic “good job, everybody”—you stand out in her mind.
Expressing gratefulness at work cements you positively in people’s memories
You may not be number one in your field. Yet how people—your boss, a potential client, or a coworker—remember you can outweigh actual mistakes or a less-than-perfect track record.
That can pay you back in referrals, better treatment, and positive conversation about you by others. And, as empathy gains currency in the professional world, taking time to express sincere gratitude can demonstrate your healthy EQ. (Check out how emotion in general affects decision-making here: Emotion or Logic.)
How to Get Started
Not sure where to start? On its “Career Advice” blog, Idealist.org lists several gratitude hacks:
- Get a job interview? Send the interviewer a thank you note after the interview.
- Did a contractor exceed your expectations? Leave them a great Facebook or Google review.
- Did a retail employee show genuine concern and attention to your problem? Write an email—to his supervisor.
Say Thank You – Now
It is easy to be thankful when everything goes your way. But when the going gets rough, “gratitude must become a deliberate, active practice,” writes Campbell. She adds that we must “seek it out” and “celebrate what [we] find.”
Start your gratitude practice today. Pick up the phone. Call and thank someone who may not know their impact on your life. Or, open your notes app. Write three things you’re glad you have. Because at the end of the day, we all have something to give thanks for.
And doing so makes our lives better.
 Harvard Health Publishing. “Giving thanks can make you happier” 14 August 2021, accessed 15 November 2021.
 Campbell, Polly. “Gratitude in Tough Times,” Psychology Today. 25 November 2014, accessed. 15 November 2021.
 “How to Increase Intimacy in Your Relationship,” www.boundaries.me/blog. 14 April 2021, accessed 15 November 2021
 Elton, Chester with Jon Picoult. “The Surprising (and Scientific) Power of Gratitude,” The Gratitude Journal, LinkedIn. 5 Nov 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/surprising-scientific-power-gratitude-chester-elton/?trackingId=sOHDMBMIQS%2Bz0pqUwgSFcw%3D%3D. Accessed 22 November 2021.