Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday and it just happened. In addition to the spectacular food and drink (thanks, Auntie Sharon and Uncle John!), I love spending time reflecting with my community about what makes us thankful. Expressing gratitude enhances human potential – doing so makes our attitude more positive and helps us be romantic partners and leaders. Taking a day (or semi-awkward meal) per year is fine, but you will grow as a community-builder if you display gratitude consistently. Here are three ways to sustain thanksgiving gratitude.
Keep a journal
Journaling helps unlock personal and professional potential. Writing down the things for which you are grateful is a powerful daily practice. Reflecting on good things that happen to us shifts our perspective into a more positive place and also makes us calmer and more humble. The exercise only takes a few minutes, too, which makes keeping a gratitude journal a pretty simply habit to sustain.
Every evening I open my journal, scrawl a big “G” and jot down two or three things that happened that day for which I’m grateful. The activity sends me to bed with a positive mindset and, I think, it also helps me focus on the most important things in life, like my family and how trees are generally better than, say, politicians.
Give a compliment
I know a thing or two about giving awesome compliments. When you express to someone why you’re grateful for something beautifully unique that they shared with you the exchange not only makes them feel great, but it also enhances your wellbeing, too. When we reward people with praise, as opposed to motivating them through fear or punishing folks for poor results, it enhances productivity and drives engagement.
During my parental leave I have spent the majority of my days with a baby and a three year old. There are reams of data that highlight the positive impact of reinforcing good behavior and I write with confidence that complimenting good stuff with both kids (“that’s awesome sharing with your brother!” or “gentle hands, son!”) sticks more than criticism.
A few times a week our family discusses gratitude at the dinner table. Whether you listen to Robin Sharma or Malcolm Gladwell, a key differentiator of leaders, community-builders and well-grounded individuals is that they shared stories over family dinners consistently. Meals are great for expressing and discussing gratitude and you can also bring the practice to team meetings or icebreaker activities.
Whenever I have one-on-ones with employees and hear or pull-out a compliment about a colleagues I always ask if they’ve told the person how they feel. Expressing gratitude isn’t easy and it can be weird, so making the act easier by prompting the gesture or role-modeling how it can be done helps to make the experience authentic, contagious and wonderfully normal.