It’s hard to be grateful when things don’t look how you want them to, but that’s actually exactly when you need to practice gratitude. Why? Gratitude does something magical; it changes your mind.
There are so many points to be made about gratitude alone. In fact, the simple daily practice of journaling through some things you are thankful for will actually make you happier! There’s a scientific study that’s proven it. But what I am thinking about today is the magical way gratitude promotes resilience and perseverance as entrepreneurs.
This is important because resilience and perseverance are the opposite of giving up. When you first start your business, there are so many opportunities to give up. There are many moments of self-sabotage, imposter’s syndrome, and just plain failure that make you think about throwing in the towel.
“Studies have shown that expressing gratitude increases self-esteem and resilience. It also increases determination and energy. People who express gratitude have fewer aches and pains, fewer psychological problems and get better rest. All of these factors helps them to be more productive.” (Entrepreneur)
GRATITUDE TEACHES YOU TO PERSEVERE
I’ve found that gratitude really helps me keep perspective, which also really helps me to persevere.
Now I don’t know about you, but resilience is not my best quality. I can become easily discouraged and it doesn’t take much to make me feel like I’m not doing “good enough”. Harnessing the power of gratitude literally keeps my perspective in check. When I’m feeling lousy or less than, all I need to do is practice gratitude.
It may be easy to feel sorry for yourself from time to time and mope around about things not going your way, when in fact, there are plenty of things going exactly your way! Sure, there are some days that feel rather unproductive, or extra challenging, but when you get outside of the moment to clear your head a bit, you’ll realize that things aren’t as bad as you felt.
Anyone can feel ungrateful in a moment. All it takes is a negative circumstance to knock you off your feet and second guess yourself. Committing to the art of gratitude enables you to prioritize thinking about what you already have and what is already going well. For example – maybe you’re looking for more clients, but you might have more now than when you started! Or maybe you miss the security of a full time job, but you have more freedom than you’ve ever had before…and you have the liberty to grow your business however you want! Everyone has a silver lining, and when you take time to appreciate it, it reminds you that resilience is worth the fight. Maintaining perspective and keeping yourself in a spirit of gratitude will promote resilience in many areas of your life.
Perseverance is a necessary skill for innovators and builders, so if this has been a tricky one for you – start with gratitude.
GRATITUDE KEEPS YOU FOCUSED
One area that we really struggle as entrepreneurs (or just as human beings) is in the arena of comparison. We look at other people’s businesses, visions and dreams and then begin to dissect our own; we criticize our accomplishments, we downplay our gifts and our story, and we become discouraged from continuing to complete the thing we originally set out to do. What a tragedy.
Gratitude keeps you focused. When you practice gratitude and make a daily habit of thinking about where you have come from and your own unique story – like I encourage in the new VA’s Roadmap to Success! – you remember what you intended to do. Not only that, but you can’t very well focus on what someone else has or what someone else is doing when you are thinking about how glad you are to have what you do have in your own hands. Think about how you’ve accomplished what you intended, and how you are glad to have vision for more.
When we scroll our feeds and look at others, we are choosing to think about what they have and what they’re doing. It’s so easy to lose focus with all of the noise, but gratitude can anchor you in and affirm what you decided to do at the start.
As I think about it now, I realize that gratitude might be the very best tool at keeping you focused! There are all kinds of strategies out there to promote focus, but nothing will ground you and center you quite like feeling good about what you have.
You may be thinking, “Well, I’ve never been a glass half full person, I’m pretty consistently seeing the glass half empty.” If that’s you, check out these Ingratitude Myths from this article on Leadership Now.
GRATITUDE MAKES YOU A LEADER
Naturally, when you begin to model your business with a foundation of gratitude, others will follow your lead and do the same. Can you imagine what that would look like, if we all began to encourage each other with our own individual gratitude?
Leadership is not for certain individuals. I like to think of leadership as a kind of “pay it forward”. Leadership sets an example for others around you in quality of life, ethics in business and stability in all of the above. There are people in your circle that need someone to show them how to be thankful for what they have. It may seem small, but maybe the people around you who most need to understand gratitude or see it on display, are those who have never been appreciated themselves.
“Gratitude increases our leadership effectiveness as drives out fear and blame, gives meaning and confidence to all, and boosts productivity. We all know this, yet still, we don’t place as much emphasis on gratitude as we should. We withhold gratitude when we should be expressing it not just for their good but for our own good as well.” (Leadership Now)
It might feel vulnerable to express gratitude or to request it from others when it boosts your productivity, but these opportunities to communicate what you need are the best way to honor yourself and let others know how they can support you. This type of healthy relational transaction is exactly what we need to find meaning in the work we do and the way we accomplish goals together. Cheering others on from the sidelines is also a great reminder to them of what they may not recognize they can be grateful for.
GRATITUDE CREATES YOUR FUTURE
Do you believe that gratitude will change your life? Well, sure you do or you wouldn’t still be reading. You may believe it will change your life, but do you also believe that it could create your future?
I’m a firm believer in the power of our thoughts and the way we cultivate the environments of our own hearts. Everything we do in our lives extends from this place – in a good way, or a bad way.
When you practice gratitude, you allow yourself to enjoy what you’ve accomplished and anticipate everything you hope to enjoy in the future. When you are open to these new creative possibilities, you might say that you’re open to the suggestion that you’ve outlined in your mind.
“Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions for suggestibility. It teaches your body emotionally that the event you’re grateful for has already happened.” (You Are The Placebo)
It’s really quite simple! When you think about your failures, you “carry” them with you. You respond emotionally with those failures in mind, you may sink down in your chair or hang your head in disappointment, or become frozen in panic.
Gratitude helps you retrain your response systems so that you can begin responding how you want to respond and begin creating the world you want to create. You may have noticed this happening in your life, maybe even in specific scenarios as you reflect on it now.
Here’s a great example:
Imagine you had a friend who always bailed on you when you scheduled a time to meet for lunch. She would never make it on time! After months of this behavior, you eventually began expecting her to be late and you would cop an attitude when she finally showed up. Now, your friend has noticed your bitterness towards her and has decided she doesn’t want to meet for lunch anymore.
Now, in this situation, there’s obviously a lot more that can be said, but think about how things might have changed if you practiced gratitude.
“I’m so grateful to have this friend in my life.”
“I’m grateful that she’s ok and there’s not a harmful reason why she’s late, such as a car accident or other incident.”
“I’m so thankful that my friend cares about me enough to talk about what’s bothering me – and to improve her punctuality out of respect for me.”
“I’m thankful that I will value myself enough to communicate honestly, and I know that if she doesn’t respond well, I’ll be grateful I gave it a shot, and know that I can find friends who do care about my needs.”
Wow. Bye bye bitterness, hello beautiful outcomes. You just changed your future with gratitude.
Now, that may be a small picture of how that might work, but it’s a very real, practical application!
This same principle works with clients, in how you think they’ll respond to your prices, your boundaries, the work you produce, and so much more.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
—William Arthur Ward
You’ll see now that there is a lot to unlock in the realm of gratitude and now is the time to start. What are YOU grateful for?