Why and How to Practice Gratitude at Work

Thanksgiving — the time of year when messaging around gratefulness fills our news feeds. Rather than the standard list of things we’re grateful for, we decided to share our thoughts on gratitude, how we put it to work in our office and why it matters. 

At DW, though expectations are high, we believe gratitude is a choice. And while this doesn’t mean everything will always be perfect, by practicing gratitude you choose to focus on the good. People have to make a conscious effort to be grateful. Almost like an autocorrect that is constantly reminding you to fix your errors, gratitude will help you red-line negative thoughts when your focus shifts to the dark side. It’s important to practice gratitude at the place where you spend the majority of your time  — the office.

Below are some tips to help you practice gratitude in the workplace year-round  — and why we think it makes a difference.

Exercise your appreciation muscle

How to do it: Like anything, the more you practice gratitude and appreciation, the better you get at it. It’s like a muscle, the more you build it, the more it will be there for you. Start with small appreciations around having a job and doing something you like and hopefully even love. Spread it by recognizing a coworker’s good work and lifting your teammates up. Practicing appreciation can be as easy as saying thank you, or offering up a ‘good job’ to a team member. You can go the extra step if you are struggling to be appreciative of something by identifying the peaks and valleys of your day. 

Why do it: When your coworkers succeed it is a win for the whole team. When we appreciate those around us, we can help grow a culture where teamwork thrives. Making the effort to identify the good in your day along with the bad only builds your muscle to see more of the good. Good is always there and appreciating the simple things is a great start to practicing appreciation.

Shift your mindset

How to do it: Let’s face it—some days are just hard. Things can sometimes feel like they are spiraling out of control and you’re not always sure how to make them better. But it will be better. Focus on the lesson of the obstacle and know that challenges only lead you to opportunity. If your mind is stubborn and the situation just doesn’t have a lot of light, step away, shift your focus to something that makes you happy, and take a deep breath. Shifting your mindset from focusing on the bad to look for the good in the situation will help you appreciate both the highs and lows. 

Why do it: These types of encounters give you experience. Those growing pains teach you lessons and make you better at what you do, or at least better at handling adversity. Remember, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the highs as much without the lows.

Moods are contagious

How to do it:  You know that feeling you get when you’ve had a great meeting or finished a great project? Ever noticed how that feeling can change your whole day?  Why not leverage those positive moments to brighten a room that might need a boost? You can do this by keeping your mood positive, offering your help or maybe grabbing some treats for the team. Always keep in mind that what you put out into the world (and thereby the office) has an effect on those around you. Sometimes what you put out might not be in your control. But don’t fixate on the negative – even if you aren’t excited about going to work. Find something to look forward to, like that warm cup of coffee that is ready to greet you at your desk.

Why do it: When you make a conscious effort to put out a vibe of gratitude at your office, you unconsciously give others permission to do the same.

If you practice gratitude it will spread like wildfire among your colleagues and ultimately make an impact on your office culture. Practicing gratitude will keep spirits high in the midst of chaos. Remember to appreciate the good and the bad as you shift your mindset to focus on the good and maintain a positive frame of mind for those around you.