Gratitude Increases Performance
It’s Thanksgiving 2015 and I have to apologize for not posting anything in the past few weeks. I am learning how to teach college and it was a lot more involved than I first imagined. It’s not that I thought teaching was easy; I simply thought it was the ‘lecturing’ part that would be difficult versus the ‘preparation’ piece. I am truly grateful for the new experience. It reinforced the need for deep preparation before presenting your material and the importance of looking at a situation from multiple perspectives.
I had moments of self-pity, though. You know the feeling. My friends go out but I stay home going over the teaching material for the next week, grading homework, or meeting with students to answer questions about an assignment. Poor me. But the feeling is fleeting because, deep down, I love learning. The more I acknowledged what I was giving up and focused on the positive aspects, the more motivated I was to dig deeper in the material and create meaningful assignments. Gratitude seemed to increase my performance.
This is an interesting concept. Could gratitude be integral to human potential?
There are a couple of paths where gratitude can lead to increased human performance. In order to be grateful, you must engage in self-reflection and acknowledge how your situation fits in the over-all scheme of things. This self-reflection can lead to a more compassionate understanding of your coworkers, neighbors, and strangers. Self-reflection and deeper compassion combine to strengthen your leadership skills. How you lead affects your results, people on your team, and every person your team members interact with.
Being grateful also supports resilient attitudes and behaviors. Being grateful means you stop ruminating on the negative aspects of the situation and, instead, focus on solving the problem. You choose to look at your situation from a different point of view. My mother always put things into perspective by saying, “No one died and no one went to jail. It couldn’t be all bad.”
Once, I talked to a man who had one of his legs blown off by an IED. He told me how thankful he was that he had a running prosthetic in addition to his other prosthetic. He never said anything about losing his leg. To him, that was in the past and he focused on his future. That is the epitome of resilience.
It is cliche to say, but take a moment each day to be grateful for something. Today, I am grateful I have a friend who is a chef because his pumpkin cheesecake is to die for. I am also grateful for my family who make me laugh and are there for me when I need them. Finally, I am grateful I no longer have small children in the house like my neighbor who can’t get the kids to stop screaming. See? You can be grateful for almost everything.
What are you grateful for?