Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Facts of Gratitude

I know I talk about gratitude and forgiveness often on this blog, but there's a reason for it. I start my day with a gratitude list that often includes my clients and the flexibility, freedom and privilege my self-employment grants me.

But it turns out that this isn't just hippie-woo-woo stuff. The Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business offers this take on why you should strive for gratitude instead of just "not being angry."

Effectively applied in the workplace, for instance, gratitude may positively impact such factors as job satisfaction, loyalty, and citizenship behavior, while reducing employee turnover and increasing organizational profitability and productivity.

Charles Kerns found that gratitude benefits both the person expressing it and the person receiving the expression of gratitude. It made them feel more bonded together and they were more determined to work hard in their jobs. In short, they became more invested.

This is an important lesson for the self-employed. This is a hard job. It's easy to get overwhelmed by its stresses and to get cranky--both with those who might deserve it and those who simply got in your way. What this study shows is that gratitude doesn't just increase serenity--it can help you grow your business.

And there's more. Kerns points to studies that found people who are more grateful also have healthier immune systems and better cardiovascular health. "In one recent study, individuals who focused on being grateful rather than on not being angry were found to positively impact a variety of important physiological functions such as improved heart, pulse, and respiration rates."

Another study suggested that people who are reliably grateful live longer.

The point is that gratitude infuses your life and your business. I suggest starting slowly. Become aware of that for which you're truly grateful--not just the clients who pay you the most (and may create the most stress). Cultivate that feeling that you are being blessed by the gifts in your life. And then nurture them by sharing them with peers and those to whom you're grateful.

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