Not So Different After All

gratitudeLast week I quietly posted a Gratitude Survey on the home page of my company’s intranet. Being Thanksgiving week, I thought it might be interesting to invite people to share what they were especially appreciative of (besides some extra time off from work). As the days went by, more and more coworkers encountered the survey and the list of entries grew. Some were funny, some were poignant; all were obviously heartfelt.

Expressing gratitude has been found to improve your quality of life in several ways. Here are seven scientifically proven benefits of cultivating a sense of gratitude.

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health.
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Grateful people sleep better.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength.

As I read through the responses to my survey, often several times a day, it was impossible to ignore the common threads weaving throughout the entries. The same words and phrases kept popping up. A creative coworker put together this word cloud for me to illustrate the frequency with which certain ideas were expressed. The larger the word appears, the more often it was found in the survey responses.

It doesn’t matter what our differences are. It doesn’t matter that we have different jobs, backgrounds, belief systems, life objectives, or political affiliations. We can disagree on any number of practical and ideological matters. Yet, through it all, we still have so much in common. When we take time to think about what’s really important, we tend to agree. We are so much more alike than any of us tend to realize.

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with warmth and laughter. I hope you took time to express your gratitude to all those who bring joy and happiness to your life. And I hope we’ll keep that spirit of gratitude front and center long after the specifics of this holiday season have faded from our memories.

It’s not too late to express your gratitude. It never is. Any time is the right time to say “thank you” to a coworker, a customer, a member of your family, or even a stranger. Let’s ignore the things that pull us apart and grab hold of those that bring us together. Because, as you see, there’s always something to be thankful for.

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