When Thanksgiving Day arrives, most people remember to express thanks for the good things in their lives. Have you ever considered what carrying an "attitude of gratitude" with you every day could do for your business and personal life?
When times are good, most people are generous with their gratitude. Nevertheless, our most valuable lessons frequently result from facing adversity. Even though we often benefit immensely from surviving a crisis, this is precisely the time that we are the least likely to express thanks for the lessons learned.
Optimism and gratitude go hand in hand
Former President Ronald Reagan used to tell a story about two little boys: one a pessimist and the other an optimist. The pessimist was placed in a room full of wonderful toys, and was quickly reduced to tears because he was convinced somebody would take them away. The optimist was placed in a room full of horse manure, and began happily digging away. His reasoning? "There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere."
While the research suggests that there may be a gene for optimism, it’s also clear that anyone can improve their mood by increasing how often they express gratitude.
In fact, when you express gratitude, you make a powerful shift in terms of how the lens in your brain (i.e., reticular activating system) views the environment.
A great example occurs when you buy a new car. Before you made the decision, you probably never noticed how many people drove the vehicle you were about to purchase. Once you buy, however, it’s amazing how many people suddenly seem to be driving the same vehicle as yours.
The act of expressing gratitude raises your beta-endorphin levels, which, in turn, improves your mood as well as increasing your immunity. The more gratitude you express, the better you feel and the easier it becomes to find more things for which to be grateful.
If you would like to carry the Thanksgiving "attitude of gratitude" throughout the year, here are four ways to make this powerful shift.
1. When life gives you a bitter lemon …
A very close friend learned that her husband had liver cancer and probably wouldn’t live more than six to 12 months. Needless to say, everyone in her family was devastated. I encouraged her to laugh with her husband as often as possible and to constantly express her gratitude for the many years of marriage that they had shared together.
When he died, she shared how much the laughter and gratitude had helped her and her family get through this horrific ordeal. Moreover, because they focused on laughing and sharing precious memories, they were able to create beautiful new memories that she never would have experienced if they had been angry and bitter about his illness.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
Every day, search for five things for which you can be grateful. If you’re finding it difficult to come up with ideas for your journal, some of the simple ones are the best: Be grateful for the heat that keeps you warm, for the food and water that nourishes your body, for a safe place to sleep, as well as for all the parts of your body that function perfectly all day, every day.
3. Do you express gratitude to your clients?
Some agents treat their clients as if they are a number, rather than a person. A great way to make your transactions flow more smoothly is to regularly express your gratitude to the people with whom you work.
For example, have you told your sellers recently how much you appreciate the opportunity to represent them on the sale of their home? Have you thanked the staff people at your office who keep everything running smoothly? How about the people who help you close your transactions? Every time you express gratitude, you make others feel better. This increases the probability that your business and your transactions will proceed more smoothly as well.
4. Gratitude trumps anger
The next time you become angry, express gratitude and see what happens. For example, if a seller is angry because her house hasn’t sold, a great way to respond is to say,
"Thank you for your patience with the process. Let’s take a look at the feedback from the showings and see what adjustments need to be made to the marketing plan and possibly the price. Is that a strategy that works for you?"
By saying, "Thank you," you immediately defuse the situation and avoid an explosive blowup. By looking at the showing feedback, you concentrate on what is working while also locating what can be improved.
As we move into the holiday season, make a point of expressing your gratitude to as many people as possible. It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself as well as to those around you throughout the year.