Showing gratitude

Victoria Gimeno. Director Institutional Relations. IE University

22 January 2015

Showing gratitude is so much more than saying thank you. It’s a positive emotion that helps to lessen the impact of problems, forge bonds, strengthen feelings of commitment, and increase levels of motivation.

Gratitude is an emotion involving feeling satisfied with what we are given, either by another person or by the world at large.
 
It’s a very positive emotion, which makes us feel happy and is incompatible with feeling like unfortunate victims, and it stops us feeling negative emotions like rage, resentment, sadness and anger. Rather, it opens the door to joy, tolerance and generosity.
 
Many people are grateful for nothing because they believe they deserve everything they receive. Others hold certain beliefs that limit their ability to show gratitude, beliefs like the idea that people do things in their own interests or because they expect a favour in return. What purpose do such beliefs serve if they don’t make us feel good or help us see the world as a happy place and instead convince us of the opposite?
 
I often meet bosses who don’t thank their subordinates for carrying out a task because they consider it an obligation, something their staff are paid for. All they achieve is a drop in staff motivation and commitment.

Which of us doesn’t feel good when we make a small effort for someone who thanks us with affection, from the heart? Gratitude creates bonds between people, good relationships. It makes us agreeable and it makes people like us.

Gratitude makes you notice the positive, it helps you put problems in context, learn from them and overcome the difficulties or crises you may be facing. People often think that gratitude means saying ‘thank you’, but that’s not the case. Although saying ‘thank you’ is one way of expressing gratitude, what it really means is saying ‘thank you’ not just with words, but also with a look, a smile, with your whole body language. It’s not just a mechanical gesture.

Neither does showing gratitude mean pretending or deceiving ourselves. When we don’t like something, we shouldn’t show gratitude. It simply means appreciating others’ efforts, what they do for us, the time they give us. It means looking for the positive in what’s around you.

What would our relationships and our world be like if we all showed gratitude, if we all valued what we are given?

Here at Ava’s blog, we’d like to encourage you to practice gratitude. Start today.

Every night, make a list of at least three good things that have happened to you that you’re thankful for. You’re bound to find some. And every morning, be grateful that you’ve woken up and you have a day ahead of you during which wonderful things can happen. And thank your waiter for your morning coffee, and your team, who are doing the best they can, and your parents who worry about you and your children who love you. There are so many things to be grateful for!

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