Giving Thanks Gives Back

With Thanksgiving  upon us, all attention turns to gratitude (or at least the recognition that we should be thankful, for something).

I’m grateful to New York Times columnist John Tierney for cutting through the gratitude flotsam:

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior to others, including romantic partners. One study stated that writing just one sentence of five things you are grateful for once a week made people happier and more optimistic than the control group. They also reported fewer physical problems, slept longer at night and were also less aggressive.

Great news — feeling grateful is good for you. The promise is that we’ll be more aware, healthier, happier and more likely to be even more appreciative when we get the gratitude kick start. That’s a better world right there!

Gratitude is also a boon for those we appreciate, especially when we share our gratitude with them:

“More than other emotion, gratitude is the emotion of friendship. It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person. Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did,” says psychologist Michael McCullough, a renowned gratitude expert.

There’s a caveat — gratitude must be heartfelt. So many nonprofits share their thanks as what’s clearly a strategic step designed to stroke donors, volunteers or board members to continue to give time and/or money.  A retention strategy isn’t gratitude.. If you’re heart isn’t in it, the “thankee” will know it immediately. And rather than a flush of well-being and connection, he’s likely to feel manipulated. Avoid at all costs.

P.S.  I’d like to thank you for inspiring me every day, for sharing the ideas, questions, stories, feedback and spirit that keep me engaged, thinking and writing!

Nancy Schwartz on November 22, 2011 in Strategy | 0 comments
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