I speak about gratitude a lot, including as part of our eight-week Culture Catalyst program. As a result, we get asked about it a lot as well. One of the most common questions we get is, “How do we bring gratitude into our culture and make it stick?”
My answer? Start by getting better at gratitude yourself. In this article, I’ll give you a four-week process for doing just that.
Before You Begin: A Gratitude Primer
Did you know that practicing gratitude is actually good for you? Studies have shown that a gratitude practice can increase life satisfaction across cultures as well as decrease symptoms of depression. A boatload of research has shown that a gratitude practice increases happiness and improves relationships. Think about it as magnifying the positive feelings we experience around the holidays and extending them all year long.
Gratitude, like any habit, is like a muscle. The more you work it, incrementally, the stronger it gets. That’s what this four-week process will help you do. Ready to get started?
Week 1: Gratitude for the Senses
Let’s begin with something many of us take for granted and that we always have with us — our senses. For the next seven days, at the end of every day, write down statements that complete the following sentence:
Today, I am grateful for these three sensory experiences …
1. Waking up this morning and being able to take a deep breath.
2. Seeing the sunset over the mountains.
3. The touch of my partner’s hand on mine at dinner.
Week 2: Gratitude for Adversity
Many of the adverse situations we have faced, in that moment, are seen as a hardship or, worse, a failure. But in hindsight, we are able to draw meaning from those experiences and see some good that came from adversity.
Steve Jobs famously said in a graduation keynote: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards.” The same is true of adversity.
For the seven days of Week 2, identify one adverse event from your past each day. Then complete this statement:
I am grateful for these three positive things that came from that adverse event:
Week 3: Gratitude for Others
Who are the seven people you are most grateful for in your life? When was the last time you told them?
This week, choose one person per day and send them an expression of your gratitude for their presence in and their contribution to your life. This could take the form of a handwritten note, a carefully crafted email or even a thoughtful text. The key is to do this daily for the seven days of Week 3.
Your messages will be a gift to each recipient. But you should also notice that your own spirits are lifted.
Week 4: Gratitude for the Little Things
For the next seven days, we will cultivate awareness of the little things for which we can be grateful in the moment. For example:
- Your significant other does something for you out of love and kindness.
- A service provider performs excellent work for you.
- A stranger holds the door open for you or lets you merge into traffic.
We are all surrounded by opportunities to experience gratitude. We just need to be aware and in the moment.
Try these steps over the next four weeks and let me know if you see changes in yourself by the end of the year.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.
Until then, let’s keep cultivating our culture, together!