The Science of Gratitude

The more you learn about gratitude, the more it becomes a magic elixir. Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on gratitude, says

Gratitude has the power to:

  1. Heal.
  2. Energize.
  3. Change lives.

Defining gratitude:

Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness in the world. You recognize that you have received gifts and benefits.

Gratitude is a recognition that the source of the goodness we have received is outside ourselves. The good things you achieve are made possible in part by the goodness others extend to you.

Gratitude is an affirmation that you are not self-sufficient. Emmons says that gratitude strengthens relationships, “… because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”

Developing gratitude:

Receive:

You must be willing to receive to experience gratitude. When you refuse to receive gifts and benefits from others, you shrink your leadership with ungratefulness.

Record:

Take one-minute every Monday morning to record something or someone you’re grateful for. Don’t worry about keeping a daily gratitude journal.

Don’t commit to spend more than 15 minutes a week writing about gratitude. You can do more. But commit to something so small that you can’t fail.

Put your gratitude practice on your calendar so you won’t forget it.

When you write:

  1. Be as specific as possible.
  2. Elaborate on details. More detail on fewer items is better than a long list.
  3. Focus on people.
  4. What would life be like without certain people in it?
  5. Consider good things as gifts, not something you expected.
  6. Remember and record good surprises.
  7. Revise if you see yourself repeating.
  8. Commit to be consistent whether it’s once a week or more.
  9. Don’t over-commit. One to three times a week is more effective than every day.

The above list is adapted from “Gratitude Journal.”

How might leaders take their gratitude practice to the next level?