Showing gratitude in lifeWhen you are running a business, it’s easy to get bogged down by the hundreds of details you have to attend to and your good mood can get lost in the mire. But it’s amazing how powerfully it can impact your business when you look past the little things that are going wrong, and focus instead on what’s going right.

For example, who likes reconciling a bank account? It isn’t on my favorite list of tasks, that’s for sure. But instead of seeing it as a tiresome chore, how about being thankful for having another to-do item checked off your list? Or being grateful that you have enough money in the account to pay the bills?

Researchers like University of Washington’s John Gottman have found that we overlook positive events when we’re in a negative frame of mind. When little challenges add up, it can get to the point where you feel negative more than you would like.

Forcing yourself to “think positive” isn’t the answer. Scientific American cites research that says emphasizing positive thinking can have negative results. In “The Power of Negative Thinking,” Oliver Burkeman writes, “…telling yourself that everything must work out is poor preparation for those times when they don’t.” Worse, it can feel like you are lying to yourself. (See also: Yes, I Suck: Self-Help Through Negative Thinking)

Instead, simply look around you and start noticing what is going well.

Did a client say “thank you” for a job well-done? Did an employee bring in treats? Did you make a sales presentation that went well? Did a vendor ship on time (or even early)? Did one of your subcontractors bring you some good news?

When you are mindful of the small pleasures that show up in your life each day, your mood improves.

You’re also improving your business relationships.

If a friend constantly complains and never has good things to say, does that make you less likely to hang out with the friend? The same applies to prospects and customers. If they hear you saying good things about how your business is going, they feel better about doing business with you.

Social media gives you an avenue for sharing these good things about your business and industry. When you post messages showing gratitude, you get a triple benefit.

  • First, you feel good. Posting the message online reinforces and strengthens the feeling.
  • Second, it allows other people to share in your successes. Their congratulations help validate the positive feeling and make it last longer.
  • Third, it lets people see that you have a successful, thriving business.

Here are some more situations where you can express gratitude:

  • A friend emails or calls you just because.
  • Someone who takes your call with a smile.
  • The friendly cashier who checks in with you.
  • Completing an item on your to do list.
  • Welcoming a new employee with a Twitter tweet.
  • A meeting stayed on track and served its purpose.
  • Delegating to a capable and trusted employee.
  • A client gives you work.
  • A vendor delivers on time.
  • Solving a problem.
  • Phones and the Internet worked all day.
  • Thanking a customer on your Facebook page.
  • Sharing an employee’s good news (not work-related) on your Facebook page.
  • Announcing a new product on your company’s LinkedIn page.

Make a commitment to post messages showing your gratitude for one week and see what happens and how you feel.

What other times can we show gratitude? How does gratitude affect you?