As Thanksgiving is approaching, today I want to discuss thankfulness and how we can better practice gratitude in our lives as entrepreneurs.
- Expressing gratitude can help us feel closer to God.
- Expressing gratitude can increase our mental health and help us get rid of negative emotions.
- If we concentrate on what we don’t have, we will never have enough.
- To increase our thankfulness we can keep a gratitude journal, say our prayers, send thank you notes, etc.
- We can express gratitude in our businesses by thanking our employees and customers.
What it Means to be Thankful
The other week in our family devotional, I talked a bit about the best strategy to get rid of negative emotions in our lives when we’re feeling anxious, angry, frustrated, scared, or resentful. One of the secret strategies to get rid of those negative emotions is gratitude.
We, as humans, can only think of one thing at a time. Our minds can go back and forth between a couple of things, but at any given time, we are really only thinking about one thing. So, if we can get out of this fixation on the negativity that’s consuming us, and switch to focus on what we are grateful for, it can help change that energy from negative to positive. Today I want to talk about that in more depth and how entrepreneurs can leverage gratitude.
One of the best stories of gratitude in the Bible is in Luke 7 when Jesus Christ healed the 10 lepers. After Jesus healed the lepers, only one of the 10 came back and thanked him. This man was completely free from illness and he was full of faith. He knelt to Jesus’s feet, and he thanked him for showing mercy. Because of this gratitude, God healed him far deeper than the other nine men were.
I think the point of that story is that God really appreciates gratitude. It puts our heart in the right place to acknowledge His power, blessings, and the gifts that He gives to us. As we are thankful, it opens up additional blessings from heaven for us.
Another great Bible story about gratitude is the story of Jonah. Jonah found himself in a dire situation of his own making. God had told Jonah to go warn Nineveh of imminent judgment if they did not repent. But instead, Jonah jumped onto the next ship to Tarsus, which is a completely different city the other direction. When a violent storm threatened to capsize the ship. Jonah knew it was God’s judgment for him, and told the sailors to throw him overboard.
After Jonah jumped, he promptly was swallowed by a large fish. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and thanked God. After his prayer of gratitude, God commanded the fish to spit him up on dry land. Jonah, even more grateful, headed to Nineveh to preach as God had originally commanded him to. Jonah was blessed for his gratitude and God helped deliver him from the whale.
Some of you have heard me tell the story of how I learned the importance of gratitude while I was in high school. Most nights, I would sit in the hallway by a hall light and I would read my scriptures. During this particular time in my life, I wasn’t feeling as close to Heavenly Father as I wanted to be. Something felt off. I was having a hard time figuring out what it was. One particular night I was perplexed about what I needed to do to feel more connected to God. I opened up my scriptures to a random page and it fell on 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which said, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
The point that I learned is God wanted me to be thankful. So I’ve tried to make gratitude a much more intentional part of my relationship with God, expressing much more gratitude in my prayers and even expressing prayers where I exclusively express gratitude. This has helped me feel much closer to my Heavenly Father.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”
Why should we be thankful?
Being grateful can help us have much better mental health. Years ago, a study done by the Greater Good Magazine randomly assigned participants seeking mental health counseling into three groups. Each group received counseling services. One group was instructed to write a letter of gratitude each week, one group was asked to write a letter about their feelings on negative experiences, and the final group wasn’t instructed to do any activity. They found that those who wrote the gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health even 12 weeks after the exercise that ended..
Gratitude has also been shown to improve our physical health. It can also help us positively deal with and get through adversity and challenges, increase our resilience, and help us have happier and stronger relationships.
Fred De Witt Van Amburgh said, “None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.”
9 Ways to Implement Gratitude
How can we practically implement more gratitude in our lives as entrepreneurs? What are some actionable items? Here are nine ways we can do so:
Make a list of what we are grateful for.
We can write down a list of everything we are thankful for. Doing this action forces us to ponder on the positive things in our lives. The more we consciously choose to be grateful, the happier we will be.
End the day with gratitude.
This is one of my favorite ways to express gratitude. After my evening rituals when I’m ready for bed, I like to ponder on what I am thankful for. This teaches me to pay attention and notice the good. As we express gratitude, we’re going to see a lot more good in our lives and it helps us shift the paradigm.
Express gratitude in our prayers.
When I say my prayers each night, I try to end it with gratitude expressing gratitude to my Heavenly Father. It’s a great frame of reference for me and a way to end my day on a peaceful note.
We can keep a gratitude journal where each day we try to write down what we are grateful for. Instead of just making a long list (as I suggested on #1) a gratitude journal can help us reflect more deeply about what we are grateful for and why. We can also look back through the journal and read it when we feel like there is nothing to be grateful for to remind us.
Set a time each day to send a thank you note or text.
We can buy a bunch of thank you cards and schedule regular times to send them each week, trying to think through everybody that’s done something for us. We can express our gratitude back to them. If we don’t have time to send a letter or small note, we can also send a quick text.
My family actually did that yesterday and it worked out really well. I got a great email back. So I’m going to try to do that a lot more frequently. Texting seems to be a lot easier than writing a card.
Have a gratitude ticker.
There’s a musical artist named Hillary Weeks, who I believe teaches a concept of how we can have more gratitude in our life. She actually uses gratitude tickers. Each time you think of a thought of gratitude, you click the ticker, and it gamifies the process of having more thoughts and expressions of gratitude in our lives.
Build gratitude into company meetings.
We can build gratitude into our team meetings. Maybe we can make it an agenda item. Maybe we open our meetings up for us and other team members to express gratitude for people within the team who did things really well or did something very kind. By doing this, our employees will feel more appreciated. This will likely increase work ethic, team morale, and boost efficiency.
Tell our employees we’re thankful for the work they do.
Steven Benson, founder and CEO of Badger Maps, has weekly team meetings to show thanks to employees. They give recognition to the great work each employee does.
He said, “This has helped us build a strong team and sense of community. The success of your business depends on your employees and establishing a positive culture where everyone feels appreciated and enjoys coming to work makes a big difference in increasing employee satisfaction and happiness.” (Source: Medium.com)
Tell our customers we appreciate them.
Dr. Thornton Wood, a business owner, trains his team to know that customers spend more money when they feel appreciated. He said, “I retain a high percentage of customers. This costs me less in marketing and those customers tell others of my services; in turn, gratitude saves me money, while making me money and costing me nothing.” (Source: Medium)
As we are more grateful in our lives, we give more room to positivity than negativity. This will help us feel happier and we will be blessed because of it.