Us humans are beautiful and complex creatures. Like an old radio, we pick up on unseen frequencies all around us called open-loop emotions. They connect us all at a deep emotional and physical level.
These frequencies, both positive or negative, come from the relational world around us: human interaction, digital interactions on social media, a smile at the grocery store, or an angry driver who cuts us off on the freeway.
Even though these interactions may seem small and inconsequential they have a significant impact on our interior world. Positive open-loop emotions, like joy and gratitude, have been scientifically proven to increase productivity, problem-solving skills, and creativity. Negative open-loop emotions, like anxiety, fear, and stress also have an impact on our productivity…but not the kind of impact you probably want!
Here are three things I recommend doing to maintain gratitude in business (and life):
1. Verbalize gratitude…even if it feels weird.
Kind words go a long way with your team, family, children, and co-workers. This is especially true if you’re ‘the boss.’ Some people naturally give verbal affirmation, but others find it awkward. But here’s an insight: if it’s awkward for you, it means it will feel more authentic to the person receiving your appreciation. Vulnerability is also a powerful human emotion. If you haven’t watched Brené Brown’s TED Talk, you should.
2. Get out of the office and do things you love.
You can cultivate a life of gratitude by doing more of what makes you happy. If you have a hobby (like playing guitar, cycling, cooking) do as much of it as you can. Joyful activities fire off positive chemicals in our brains which increase our capacity for problem-solving, creativity, and gratitude.
There’s a lot of talk about ‘hustle’ in the entrepreneurial world and I’m all for working hard. But it’s unrealistic to burn the candle at both ends and think we can still give our businesses, families, and world our best.
3. Make lists…all kinds of lists.
If you’re a business owner, there’s a strong chance you experience high highs and pretty low lows. When I’m nose-diving into Negativityville, I do whatever I can to climb back towards blue skies. When things are feeling a bit stressful, I start listing out all of the things I’m grateful for. Sometimes I type out a list in Evernote. Sometimes I talk to my wife about all of the clients I’m thankful for. Sometimes I think of how far I’ve come in business. Sometimes I say a quick prayer of thanks for all of the good in my life. Figure out a system for capturing your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones.
Practicing gratitude isn’t just ‘feel good’ piece of advice. It’s a proven strategy for increasing productivity and the likelihood of long-term success.