Caldwell: Giving thanks can be good for business

In the U.S., we only have one Thanksgiving holiday on the fourth Thursday of November.

Why celebrate giving thanks for only one day during the year?

Year-round thanksgiving is a way of living that focuses on gratefulness and appreciation for all of life’s bounty.

The positive and healthy effects of gratitude are backed up by medical research.

An investigative study was conducted by Dr. Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University and Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California about the role that gratitude plays in a person’s sense of well-being and fulfillment in life.

McCollough and Emmons were interested in why some people seemed to be happier and more satisfied in life. They commenced their studies and created the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness that was supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The study observed several hundred people in three different groups and asked them to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of all of the events that transpired during the day, while the second group put their focus on and made a record of only their unpleasant experiences. The last group (“the gratitude group”) focused on and made a daily list of things for which they were grateful. 

The results of the study were astounding. The gratitude group’s daily appreciation exercises resulted in higher reported levels of optimism, energy, enthusiasm, determination and alertness. Additionally, the participants in the gratitude group noted that they were exercising more regularly, experiencing lower levels of stress and depression, were more inclined to be in service to others, and were making more progress toward their professional and personal goals. McCollough and Emmons also found that a focus on gratitude encouraged a positive, “pay it forward” effect of one act of gratitude inspiring others throughout the participants’ communities.

Their study concludes, according to McCullough and Emmons, that anyone can increase their sense of well-being and create positive connection with others by just from counting their blessings.

In the business world, how can you and your organization integrate this gratitude practice into your daily activities?

For starters, take a few minutes at the beginning of a meeting and share a positive comment about another co-worker and their results. One person could be act as a scribe and record the acknowledgements for the entire department or company to read after the meeting. In other team settings or in one-on-one meetings, you and your colleagues could share one thing (or more!) you are grateful for or what is new and good with the company, clients, co-workers, or a business opportunity. Yes, this could sound like some corny, new-age mumbo-jumbo fluffy thing, but trust me, it works. By focusing on giving thanks, trust and personal connections between co-workers increase by putting attention on solutions and possibilities rather than negativity, resignation and pessimism.

Especially in this season of thanks and gratitude, (which should really be a year-round mindset of acknowledgement and appreciation) write a thank you note to the people in your life... “just because.” Why not bring flowers home to simply thank your spouse or enjoy a father’s or mother’s night out with one of your kids that doesn’t involve carpooling or a play date?

Buy one of your favorite books from a local retailer, write a note of appreciation and send it to a valued customer, employee or friend. Let them know that you are grateful for them and why your relationship is important to you.

Another idea is to clip out this column and send it along with a note to a valued business partner, prospective client or friend and let them know you were thinking of them.

You might consider inviting your most valuable employees and clients to the upcoming Crystal Lake Chamber Foundation’s GEMs Leadership Appreciation Luncheon Feb. 13. (Please excuse the chairwoman’s grateful promotion of this event). The appreciation from your guests will yield a huge return-on-investment and positive deposits in your “trust account.” 

In the real world, what does it take to be consistently thankful personally and professionally? Certainly, being vulnerable and giving up the need to be right are two important behaviors to ensure that you experience thanksgiving.

Appreciating the work you do and being proud about the contributions you make will expand your life and your business. Begin creating your professional and personal “Culture of Thanks Giving and Excellence” program.

• Kathleen Caldwell is president of Caldwell Consulting Group and the founder of the WHEE Institute (Wealthy, Healthy, Energetic Edge) of Woodstock. She can be reached at www.caldwellconsulting.biz, Kathleen@caldwellconsulting.biz or 815-206-4014.

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