A plethora of research in the positive psychology field points to the benefits of making a practice out of being grateful by keeping a gratitude journal—a designated place, whether on a computer or in a notebook, where you write down five things you experienced throughout the day or week for which you have been grateful. While you can certainly write these gratitude moments down every day, research says that entries can be a bit more explanatory and even done a few times a week to reap the benefits.20 Because humans are wired for negativity bias—the propensity to remember the bad things in life over the good things—journaling about what we have found to be blessings each day, no matter how minor, keeps us in the positive frame of mind, but also helps us practice mindfulness to be aware of the opportunities that David Stendl-Rast spoke of in his TED talk.
The entries can range from the ordinary (“eating break- fast”) to the private (“the email exchange with an old col- league”) to the timeless (“the beach”). When you can’t think of anything to be grateful for, breaking things down by these categories can really take the pressure off and make you realize how much worse things could be. You can also take the approach of imagining how scenarios would play out without the people, places, and things in your life. For instance, for anyone who has had an air-brain assistant, imagine how your day would go if nobody was manning the desk at all. Taking the negative approach is a good last resort for those bad days when nothing can make you feel grateful.
Keep your gratitude journal near your workspace or start one online (I like http://thnx4.org/),21 be sure to set an alert either daily or a few days a week to remind you it’s time to reflect on the good things in life. Do it after the day is through, but before you head home for your next shift. Keep the room quiet, and remember: no need to rack your brain. By using the three categories as guides—ordinary, private, and time- less—you will see how blessed your business life is in no time. What’s more important is you will start to adopt an attitude of gratitude that is sure to be contagious to those who work with you.
Check out the following list for ideas of what to be grateful for on those tough days.
They’ve been a helpful go-to for me during my worst times.
- Quick line at the coffee shop.
- The check was actually in the mail.
- The nice exchange with the UPS person.
- Laughing with my biz partner.
- Rent didn’t go up.
- Finishing up the loose ends on a lingering project.
- The prospect that emailed me back.
- The cancellation of a lunch date that was keeping me from a deadline.
- A surprise thank-you card.
- The Internet.
- The surprise endorsement I received on LinkedIn.
- A repeat customer who is sending “everyone” to me.
- My customers.