Gratitude Shifts Attitude

Want to succeed? Practice gratitude, researchers say.

Gratitude Shifts AttitudeYou’re a hard-charging, data-driven, Type A business student. Don’t think gratitude has a place in your toolbox of skills? Dr. Glenn Fox, a senior lecturer at the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, has news for you.

Gratitude comes with significant ROI (return-on-investment), for businesses and business students.

A neuroscientist by training, Fox is at the forefront of research on gratitude and entrepreneurial thinking. “Gratitude is so closely correlated with happiness, optimism and lifestyle, that now we explore it as a tool to improve our work lives,” he says.

For business leaders, the bottom line is deceptively simple: Showing and demonstrating you care for other people, like your employees, inspires them to take care of you too. “When a company’s people cooperate and like each other, the company does better. It’s that simple, and the research backs it up.”

Creating long-lasting and trusting relationships is key to business. “Think of our own Trojan network,” he says. “It works because as a group we go out of our way to be grateful for each other and we help each other out in turn—creating a virtuous cycle.”

Finding the Good

For students, practicing gratitude pays off as well. “Even if you have a difficult task, looking for ways to experience gratitude can allow you to see clearly about the people around you who are good and what’s working,” he said. “It will help you change your perception. It’s a huge tool.”

Gratitude, he says, is a skill that needs to be practiced. “If you practice it as a manager, you’ll probably get people to perform better,” he says. “If you practice it as a student or a worker, you’ll improve your performance.”

And as in everything else, practice makes perfect. 

Fox recommends a few simple ways to build a practice of gratitude into your daily life:

  • Take time in the morning to write down or notice three things you’re grateful for, or can appreciate in the moment including other people.
  • Note everyday blessings, such as a good meal or a chance to catch your breath during a stressful day.
  • Practice mindfulness. Meditate on your breath or take a walk and observe the things that are helping you feel okay in that moment.

The Maori of New Zealand have a saying, says Fox: “Gratitude is the glue that binds people together.”  It spirals outward and creates a strongly bonded team.