What do Oprah Winfrey, Sir Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a host of rich, famous celebrities have in common?
If your answer was, “bucketloads of cash”, well - you’d be right. But there’s one critical thing they all do that drives their success. It has nothing to do with bank account size, who they know, or the work they’ve done to be at the top of their game. It’s a practice that is completely free, and it’s something we should all be doing, all the time.
It may seem as though the mere act of being grateful is too intangible of a concept for it to truly be a factor in driving success. After all, there’s no real penalty to being ungrateful, apart from looking like a bit of a jerk in certain social situations. However, there’s a science behind the positive effects of gratitude, and the results speak volumes in the pursuit of success.
Let’s take a look at some of the pitfalls of an ungrateful mindset:
Ungrateful people can make poor choices.
When you’re ungrateful, you’re not concentrating on the good aspects of your life, leaving you resentful and even angry. You’re scanning for what’s missing, making choices based on what is lacking rather than what you have to work with, which can really go against your path to true happiness.
Research conducted by the Harvard Business Review analyzed the effects of anger on decision-making, concluding that holding onto resentment and anger throughout the day will poison choices made and actions taken.
The practice of gratitude allows you to step back from anger, fear, hurt - all those emotions that can really cloud judgment. By concentrating on the elements you are thankful for (no matter how small), you are giving your mind the best to chance to thrive and be fuelled by positive, inspiring energy.
Gratitude fosters good.
Multiple studies have been conducted into how gratitude affects social good and the moral compass.
Generally, those who actively practice gratitude have a stronger sense of social responsibility, morality and ‘doing the right thing’. Their brain is essentially optimized for empathy and sound value judgments - two factors that certainly aid in successful business, leadership and earning the trust of peers.
Grateful people receive gratitude.
Those who concentrate on the good in their life are often compelled to ‘pay it forward’. They will deliberately seek ways to give back, help others and keep the positive vibes flowing.
Gratitude is contagious. When you’re looking to get ahead in life, whether in a career, as an entrepreneur, as a traveling one-man band - whatever it may be, gratitude breeds strong connections and a willingness for others to help where they can in promoting your success.
So, how do you start practicing gratitude?
The thing with being more thankful is that it’s quite easy to get started - there’s no subscription to buy, pills to take or mountains to climb.
It can be as simple as starting your day by writing down five things you are grateful for in your life. They don’t have to be big things: it could be waking up to your dog’s wagging tail, the really great coffee you can get from your favorite cafe, or the smell of morning rain. The Five-Minute Journal is a great place to start your focus.
“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.”
— Oprah Winfrey
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