‘Tis the season for acknowledging those who have helped you out during the year. Whether you celebrate the winter holidays or not, this is the time of year when service people look for a bit of gratitude for their work during the year. By being thoughtful and generous you can ensure that you go into the new year with stronger relationships with those who help keep your life in order.
Make a list of the service people who should be acknowledged this season and choose appropriate gestures. The postal delivery person, your hair stylist, housekeeper, administrative assistant, etc. Think broadly – there are lots of people who would be surprised and delighted by a bit of seasonal cheer.
Your gifts do not have to be monetary or cost a lot – referrals and testimonials and heartfelt thanks don’t cost a cent, but can make a huge impact.
There was a time when saying the words, “Let me know what I can do to help,” was almost always laced with the worry that I actually had nothing to offer. The intention of generosity was there. It was just squashed behind the secret fear that someone might call my bluff: “Oh yeah? What could you possibly do to help me?”
Growing up in a family of divorce, addiction and dysfunction created a recurring (and common) theme of “never enough” for me. Unfortunately when that mentality creeps in, it’s not only harder to give, but nearly impossible to receive as well.
So how do we overcome this unhealthy programming? The key for me has been to illuminate those paralyzing scarcity beliefs and replace them with a radiating sense of abundance. The spark is gratitude. When we both feel and express gratitude on a consistent basis, we inherently acknowledge and invite abundance. This nurtures the abundance mindset we need in order to generously give and receive.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get refocused on daily habits that ignite gratitude. Here are a few suggestions (no turkey required):
- Start on a high note. Loretta Laroche once advised me to start the day with a hearty, “TAH DAH! I made it through the night!” If the first words out of your mouth are usually something more along the lines of, “Oh crap!” be aware of the tone you are setting for the rest of your day.
- Go on a “thank you” treasure hunt. Look for opportunities to be appreciative. Thank everyone. Say “thank you” every time you get a green light during your commute, when something in nature catches your eye or when the printer works. Find the gifts.
- Let your cup runneth over. Find two minutes each day to indulge in intense thoughts of gratitude and abundance. My favorite time to do this is right after a workout. Visualize it. Feel it. Let it wash over you.
- Adjust your attitude. Everyone has their moments. Recognize when you’re in a negative spiral so you can get back on a positive track. Here’s a clue: If you meet more than two jerks in one day, chances are pretty good you’re one of them.
- Make a list. Keep a written gratitude journal or make it verbal. Exchange the best parts of the day with your partner or children as a bedtime ritual. Words add power. Knowing you’ll be doing this each night will also make you more focused on finding list-worthy moments throughout the day.
When we instinctively feel that there is an infinite amount of goodness to go around, we give freely. When we see ourselves as authentically generous, we receive deservedly.
What helps your attitude of gratitude?
Charlene DeCesare is the co-founder and Senior Director of Tuition Advisory Services, an advising and technology firm that helps companies maximize ROI on corporate-sponsored education. She is also working on a book about personal and professional balance. Check out her insightful and entertaining blog, The Balance Beam.
In true holiday tradition, this past week we had our NY team Thanksgiving potluck. Since we didn’t take a picture – whoops – here’s a pic of Ferrazzi Greenlight LA’s food fest.
But we did eat – a lot – and play the gratitude game.
Your turn to chime in: What are you most thankful for this year? Taking 30 seconds to reflect and write it out can have a profoundly positive effect on your day.
Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.
On the latest Social Capitalist webinar, guest James Altucher introduced myGreenlight to what he calls “The Daily Practice,” four steps that put you in the right place to succeed by helping you create better ideas and more energy. It was “The Daily Practice” that picked James back up after each of his failures and ultimately led him to success.
The Daily Practice:
- Take care of your physical health. You can’t succeed if you’re sick and out of shape. Eating right and getting physically fit increases your energy and makes it much easier for you to succeed.
- Take care of your emotional health/intimate relationships. If you’re in a series of bad relationships or constantly arguing with your family, spouse, or boss you are not going to have the emotional health to find the energy to build a business or succeed.
- Mental health – flex your idea muscle. You have to be able to generate ideas and have the confidence that your ideas are good. Building your idea muscle requires practice and time just like building any other kind of muscle. Continue reading
Very skilled social capitalists often receive attention for the really clever, grand activities they incorporate into their work life, everything from the organizational systems they implement to the fancy parties they throw. In the context of these elaborate strategies talk of something like the power of expressing gratitude can seem so small and so overblown — until you read the research.
Want a quick booster shot to immediately improve a relationship? A minor thankful gesture, according to the following study, has a transformative impact:
This research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that expressing gratitude to a relationship partner enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength. In Study 1 (N = 137), a cross-sectional survey, expressing gratitude to a relationship partner was positively associated with the expresser’s perception of the communal strength of the relationship. In Study 2 (N = 218), expressing gratitude predicted increases in the expresser’s perceptions of the communal strength of the relationship across time. In Study 3 (N = 75), participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they expressed gratitude to a friend, or to one of three control conditions, in which they thought grateful thoughts about a friend, thought about daily activities, or had positive interactions with a friend. At the end of the study, perceived communal strength was higher among participants in the expression-of-gratitude condition than among those in all three control conditions. We discuss the theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research. (Source: “Benefits of Expressing Gratitude, Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Changes One’s View of the Relationship” from Psychological Science.)
Gratitude doesn’t just immediately improve a relationship, it can make it more productive. Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, covers another study on the power of “thank you” in the workplace:
The simple act of having a boss come by and offer a public thanks to one group, and but not the other, really packed a wallop. These fundraisers were paid a fixed salary, so Grant and Gino compared the number of phone calls made be each fundraiser before and after the “thank you” intervention. The results were pretty impressive, as while there was no change in the average number of calls made by the group that was not offered thanks, the folks who heard a warm two sentence thank you from a boss made an average of about 50% more calls during the subsequent week. (Source: “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)
Piling up daily small interpersonal wins with seemingly trivial gestures is the social capitalist’s bread and butter.
Tahl Raz is the host of myGreenlight’s Social Capitalist Series.