Has life ever felt like that movie “Groundhog Day” to you? Like you’re living the same day over and over?
I’ve been there before—the feeling of waking up to a mundane routine and doing the same thing at work every day. I felt more like a robot than a person.
There was one day in particular when I felt depressed and stuck. I had just moved states 3 months prior and got a brand-new job. Everything was supposed to feel new and exciting, but for some reason, it didn’t.
I stopped to think about my circumstances. Just 6 months before this, I was at a desk wishing my life looked the way it did now.
I’d worked so hard for the future I hoped for, and once it became reality, I didn’t even appreciate it.
That was the moment I realized I needed to change my perspective.
So, instead of dragging my feet, I decided to enjoy the little things throughout my day—like how great my coffee tasted, how I got to take a midday walk and enjoy the sunshine, and how lucky I was to have a new job and live in the city I always dreamt about.
These little moments of gratitude changed my outlook and made my long days much more enjoyable.
Maybe showing gratitude at work is hard for you. Or maybe you’ve never even considered showing gratitude at work. Lots of people see work as something they have to endure until the next weekend or vacation, but (if you’re like me), you want much more than that.
When you’re grateful for what you have, you can appreciate life more. This can make you happier and a more positive person in the workplace.
Let’s look at the different ways you can practice gratitude at work and positively impact your job.
Why incorporate gratitude into work?
Taking time out of your day to reflect and express gratitude can have a transformative effect, both in terms of productivity and feeling rewarded for your work. Here are three reasons why you should make gratitude part of your work life:
- It inspires and increases motivation. When employees express appreciation and gratitude in the workplace, it leads to increased feelings of inspiration, which in turn increases levels of motivation. Gratitude also reshapes how we think about our jobs; we transition from seeing them as tedious obligations to opportunities for growth and collaboration.
- It increases overall satisfaction. Practicing appreciation is positively correlated to overall job satisfaction—this helps us become more engaged in our work and determined to turn out high-quality products or services.
- It improves relationships between coworkers. Expressing gratitude is a positive predictor for overall satisfaction with coworkers, and it enhances social support in the workplace. It promotes a sense of appreciation and cooperation rather than competition. This leads to a much healthier workplace environment, one that values genuine workplace connections over aggressive tactics—an essential ingredient for any successful company.
If you really want to create long-term success for yourself professionally—both in terms of job satisfaction and leveling up your career—cultivating gratitude in the workplace is something worth striving for.
4 ways to practice gratitude at work
1. Acknowledge and appreciate the little things
Little things make the workday more enjoyable—if we take the time to notice. For some of us, it’s the coffee mug we’ve had since college. For others, it’s the comfy office chair we splurged on or our relationships with coworkers. Whatever it is, taking a moment each day for appreciation can help improve our overall outlook and make the workday a little more satisfactory.
Choosing to look at the positives can be challenging, but practice makes better. Start out simple:
- Take a few minutes to regularly count your blessings.
- List your “work wins” for the week.
- Give yourself credit where it’s due.
- Find ways to show appreciation to others (verbal or written).
Taking note of these small moments, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will help build confidence even when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut—and give you something to look back on with fondness at the end of the day.
2. Keep a gratitude journal
Acknowledging what you’re grateful for is a great start, but taking it a step further and writing it down can be even more beneficial. Take it from this yoga enthusiast, journaling your gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving:
- It makes it easier to notice even more things we are grateful for.
- It helps us feel more balanced and better manage daily stress.
- It can help us feel more accomplished.
- It helps us extend more compassion and generosity to others.
Another study found that reflective gratitude journaling also improves overall well-being and reduces depression.
At the end of a long workday, it can be easy to focus on all the things that went wrong. The printer jammed, your coffee spilled, and you got stuck in a soul-sucking meeting. These negative, stressful emotions can be hard to shake. Try your best not to dwell on them.
Instead, take a moment to reflect on the good things that happened. Maybe your boss praised your work on a project, or you had a productive conversation with a colleague. Write down the good stuff.
Not only will taking stock of the positive help you feel better about your job, but it can also boost motivation and productivity, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. So the next time you’re feeling stressed at work, you can look at your journal and remind yourself of all the good things about your job.
3. Be intentional about saying thank you
Once you’ve acknowledged a sense of gratitude from within, you should begin to share it with those around you. Saying “thank you” to your boss and coworkers can go a long way toward maintaining a positive work environment. Here are just a few of the benefits of expressing your gratitude for others at work:
- It shows character. Saying thank you shows that you’re paying attention and giving credit to others, two qualities valued in the workplace.
- It makes others feel good. Everyone likes to feel appreciated—your boss and coworkers are no exception. A simple “thank you” can brighten someone’s day.
- It builds positive relationships. Appreciation fosters strong relationships with your boss and coworkers. Showing them that you value their contributions to the team will make them want to work with you in the future.
4. Practice random acts of kindness
At work, we can get so wrapped up in our own lives and problems that we forget about the people around us.
But what if we took a moment out of our day to show kindness to our colleagues with more than a “thank you”?
Showing gratitude to your coworkers and boss can impact your workplace vibe in a big way.
Some ideas include:
Offer to bring coffee or food for your co-workers. They’ll appreciate the energy boost and the thoughtfulness.
Give genuine compliments and encouragement. Tell your co-workers something you appreciate about them. Offer encouragement if you know they’re stressed or having a rough day. Kind words matter at work.
Write a thank you note. Research from the University of Pennsylvania shows that a hand-written letter expressing gratitude significantly increases levels of happiness. The positive benefits can even last up to an entire month! Writing a note could make a colleague’s day and make your workplace a happier place to be.
Chat with and listen to your co-workers. Don’t blow off work to socialize, but check in with your co-workers when you have a minute. Ask them about their families and hobbies. Listen intently to what they have to say. Sometimes lending a listening ear is the best thing to brighten someone’s mood. Work can leave us feeling disconnected at times, but when a co-worker takes time to ask questions, it makes us feel cared for.
Offer assistance with projects or tasks. If you notice a coworker needs some help, take initiative and offer them a hand. It may be something as simple as answering a question, helping to fix a tech issue, or taking something off their plate if they’re overloaded. The best coworking relationships are when colleagues collaborate and support one another.
Gratitude starts from within
Every day we get to choose. We can focus on what’s not going right…or we can shift our mindset toward gratitude.
A grateful outlook doesn’t mean that you’re oblivious to real problems or that you can’t talk about difficult topics. But it will certainly influence how you engage in the world, in all kinds of situations—good and bad.
The next time you’re having one of those days at work, take a minute: Reflect on what’s going well and what you’re feeling good about. Share your appreciation with others, either verbally or through a kind gesture. Remember, much like a smile or a yawn, gratitude at work is contagious.
That shift in your perspective might make all the difference.