Cultivating Gratitude

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How many times have you said thank you without actually feeling… well… grateful? Muttering thanks to the person who held the door for you earlier, the barista who made your latte, and even your sign off “Thanks!” on all your emails can sometimes ring hollow. The sentiment, and most importantly, the good feelings you have behind the words are lost.

Honestly, if you did keep track of “moments of gratitude”, you would have a dozen things to be thankful for just in that morning on your way to work!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to keep track of ALL of it. How about five things? That sounds almost doable, right?

Putting your problems in perspective by focusing on the positive is the first step in overcoming them. And, there’s so much more. Here are some more unexpected benefits to starting a gratitude journal:

1. Good things DO happen and you finally have the “receipts” to prove it! A gratitude journal is literally your important paperwork of life.

2. You keep only memories that bring you joy. Have you ever gone through your old teenage journals and think … “What was I so upset about?! I had free food and wifi!”? If you want a happy life, record only the happy memories and let the bad times slip into oblivion along with your high school locker combination.

3. It’s the perfect way to end your day. Who doesn’t want to have their stress levels lowered right before bed? Skip the Tylenol PM and grab your gratitude journal instead.

4. Your future self will thank you. This is a little bit meta, but by writing out what you are grateful for now, you give your future self something to be grateful for. Gratitude is simply happiness you recognize at a later date.

5. You will find that you go through life extra attuned to “gratitude inspiring” events. How cool is that?

Starting and maintaining a gratitude journal sounds daunting, but it is so worth it. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get started.

1. Keep a small notebook and pen next to your bedside table. You can later invest in a fancy personalized journal. Whatever you have on hand will do just fine.

2. Write – don’t type. Research shows that the physical act of writing is soothing in and of itself.

3. Take a moment to think through what you are grateful for today. Just today. It may not make sense to anyone who is reading it, and that’s okay!

4. Stay the course. This isn’t a journal of events. This isn’t a place to write out your frustrations. Stay positive and keep out the negative.

5. Keep it secret. Don’t share it with anyone. It will only stymie your true thoughts and feelings. Your gratitude journal is a judgement free zone.

Are you ready to smile at the end of every work day? Keeping a gratitude journal is a hidden life hack for being healthier, happier, and more productive.

Try it!




We’re posting from the United States, where we’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow. Thanksgiving’s a great reminder to all of us that gratitude is one of the most powerful engagement tools a manager can use. When used honestly and sincerely, it’s impossible to over use.

But in reality, we’re probably each a little guilty of under using it.

The crab from The Little Mermaid looks crabby, has a crabby personality, and is clearly throwing a fit (and his lettuce). Hasn’t there been a time you’ve felt this way?  Maybe even lots of times?

It goes to say then, that probably your employees and maybe even your bosses feel this way too.  No one really can appreciate what each person goes through to accomplish something.  Complicated accomplishments take skill, knowledge, support, time, effort, confidence, and dedication.

Folks that make these things look easy could use more acknowledgement and gratitude – since they’re unlikely to throw their lettuce down and say, “I hope you appreciate what I go through for you”.  By the time someone says and does something like that, they’re feeling disengaged.

So even if you’re feeling a little under appreciated, take a moment to think about someone that could be more appreciated and extend a bit of gratitude their way. “Thank you” is nice, but even better hit these points:

  • Be specific
  • Acknowledge the effort
  • Share the impact

Sebastian the Crab dodged and distracted the ship’s cook and overcame numerous attempts on his life so that Ariel (the Little Mermaid) was able to attract the attention of Prince Eric, her one true love. While “Thank you” is nice, talking about how he really impacted the story would’ve been nicer, had Ariel been focusing on her leadership skills.

Make the gesture appropriate to the task and the gratitude, a little celebration of work well done. You could make their day.