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How to practice gratitude as an entrepreneur

If you’re stuck in your business, get this guide on how to practice gratitude daily. Gratitude isn’t just good for you -- it’s great for business growth, too.

June 3, 2019 by Cyn Meyer

You’re working hard at building a successful online business.

You definitely enjoy the perks of being an entrepreneur, but lately, you’ve been wondering if your blood, sweat, and tears are worth it.

Sometimes it feels like you can’t even see the mountain top.

You wonder, “Am I ever going to reach my ambitious goals?”

Or worse, “Who am I kidding? Can I really do this?

Our answer: Yes, absolutely.

Our method: Through gratitude.

Not sure what we mean by gratitude? In our context, gratitude means having and showing appreciation for the parts of your business life that are meaningful and valuable to you.  

And there are a lot of benefits to having gratitude. Today, we share with you those benefits, plus six ways you can start practicing immediately, so you can quickly rejuvenate and continue to grow your stellar business.

Let’s get started.

What are the benefits of practicing gratitude?

#1. It expands your network

Practicing gratitude lends itself to socialization and building relationships with other people, which means you can expand your network by showing an appreciation for others.

A study out of the University of New South Wales found that giving thanks to a new acquaintance makes them more likely to want to continue a relationship with you.

According to researcher Dr. Williams, being thankful provides a valuable signal that you’re someone worth building a high-quality relationship with.

"Our findings represent the first known evidence that expression of gratitude facilitates the initiation of new relationships among previously unacquainted people." 

Not only does gratitude expand your network, but it also comes with health benefits.

#2. It’s good for your physical health

When you practice gratitude, you also improve your physical health.

Sound far-fetched to you?

Here’s proof: In a study of 185 asymptomatic heart failure patients at the University of California, San Diego, researcher Paul J. Mills and his team found that people who are more grateful sleep better, are less fatigued, and have less system inflammation.

Those are a lot of health perks from one mental state.

Speaking of your mental state, gratitude also helps with that.

#3. It’s good for your mental health

Practicing gratitude boosts your mental health. Whether you’re counting your blessings or thanking other people, gratitude goes a long way and significantly impacts your happiness level.

Psychologist and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions in a study of 411 people.

What did he find out?

People who write about three good things that happened each day and why are significantly less depressed for up to six months.

Dr. Martin also found that when people write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who’s never been properly thanked for their kindness, you immediately exhibit a huge increase in happiness.

So, if you’re suffering from low self-esteem or imposter syndrome, practicing gratitude is a powerful way to solve those issues and recharge your mental health.

OK, that covers the health benefits of gratitude. What about the health of your business?

Yep, practicing gratitude plays a role in boosting your business, too.

#4. It improves your business and bottom line

Another key benefit of practicing gratitude is it helps grow your business.

How? When you have reduced stress and better well-being overall, you’re likely to make more sound decisions in your business, and hence, grow it more profitably.

Also, practicing gratitude by thanking others increases your bottom line.

For example, in a study at the Wharton School, they found that messages of gratitude result in higher performance by employees. Team members who were thanked for their efforts raised 50% more in fundraising than the people who didn’t receive messages of gratitude.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of its benefits, let’s walk through how you can leverage the power of gratitude daily.

6 simple and quick ways to practice gratitude daily

#1. Keep a gratitude journal

Keeping a daily journal of what you’re thankful for is a powerful way to practice gratitude.

In one of their iconic studies, psychologists and leading researchers on gratitude, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, found that gratitude journaling has a substantial impact on your well-being.

The duo found that after 10 weeks, people who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives that those who wrote about daily irritations and things that displeased them.

Remember the physical benefits of gratitude? Gratitude journaling plays a role in that, too.

In a more recent pilot study of 70 patients, researchers at the University of California, San Diego discovered that gratitude journaling improves biomarkers of heart failure morbidity, like reduced inflammation.

As you can see, the people who kept a gratitude journal showed fewer biomarkers of heart failure morbidity than those who didn’t.

If you’re interested in getting started right away, here are some tips for keeping a gratitude journal:

  • Be specific and write about details that trigger emotions.
  • Write about how you feel, which is more important than what you write about.
  • Try writing about new and old relationships, opportunities, and something simple that you witnessed recently.

In sum:

Keep a daily gratitude journal to improve both your physical health and well-being overall. It’s a simple activity you can incorporate into your everyday life without disrupting your daily routine.

The key factor is to make it a consistent habit, which will rewire your brain more quickly. Our next method also relies on consistent daily practice.

#2. Reflect on your journey and reframe your perspective

Another great way to practice daily gratitude is to look back and appreciate how far along you’ve come in your journey. If you remember the bad times, reframe it by:

  • Being thankful you were able to get past rough patches and build up resilience    
  • Appreciating and understanding the learning experience

If you’re feeling particularly negative about something, a useful tool is to rewrite your story.

For example, renowned motivational speaker and TV host, Mel Robbins, suggests literally rewriting your negative thoughts to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

By focusing on gratitude instead of your negative experiences, your mental health improves significantly, which is what happened in a study of over 300 participants who struggled with depression and anxiety.

The group that was instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person for three weeks reported much better mental health up to 12 weeks after their writing exercise, in comparison to the people who were asked to write about their feelings around negative experiences.

Pretty remarkable, right?

The main takeaway is to reflect and appreciate how far along you’ve come. Rather than focusing on negative thoughts, reframe your thoughts and literally rewrite and replace them with positive perspectives.

Again, the more you practice this daily, the more results you’ll experience.

Now, as for who to thank, your coworkers and colleagues make an excellent starting point.

#3. Thank your colleagues

Whether it’s your coaches, advisors, board members, partners, or hired freelancers, making your appreciation known to people who help you in your business is a simple way to practice gratitude daily.

Otherwise, feeling underappreciated comes with its consequences.

12% of workers say they would quit their job because they don’t feel appreciated, so be sure to vocalize your thankfulness.

This is also vital for your remote colleagues, which you’re likely to have if you’re a solopreneur working from home. More than a third of remote workers prefer to be rewarded with words of affirmation, whether verbally or written.

So why not take the time to thank your colleagues? Both parties will benefit.

Basically, find ways to show your appreciation, whether in a phone call, note, email, in-person, or with a gift.

Your colleagues aren’t the only ones you should thank, however.

#4. Thank your clients and customers

Another great way to practice gratitude is to thank your clients and customers. After all, without them, you have no business.

You can get creative with this one and send a simple thank you email, note, certificate, or special discount.

For instance, here’s a thank you email from JetBlue, sent after the customer’s flying experience.

You can go beyond a thank you email and include physical notes and send them to your customers, like this personalized note to a TrunkClub client.

Or you can get more elaborate and send a gift to those who recently made a big purchase with you, like this mug and stickers.

Thanking your customers not only helps your overall well-being, but it also comes with its benefits for your business and can increase the likelihood of further actions by 100%, which means:

  • You increase your probability of new customers engaging with you
  • You increase your chance of getting positive customer reviews
  • You increase your customers’ willingness to refer to your brand

It’s definitely a method not to be missed.

There’s one other thing you want to thank as part of your daily gratitude -- but it’s probably not one you feel especially grateful for.

#5. Thank your failures

You can also practice gratitude daily by thanking your failures.

Sound cooky?

While failures can feel like a disaster -- and a serious reason to up and quit -- they’re actually blessings of important lessons that you can be thankful for.

A secret weapon you may want to tap into is overcoming failure by being grateful for your pitfalls and hiccups.

If you’re wondering why, the reason is that by embracing challenges and focusing on the process of getting better, you adopt a growth mindset, which expert Carol Dweck sees as imperative for success.

As you can see, people with a growth mindset believe they’re in control of their abilities and have the capacity to learn from failure and grow. They’re more likely to embrace challenges and persist.

Those sound like vital pieces to being a successful entrepreneur, no?

The lesson here is:

So much of the time, we beat ourselves up for not yet achieving our goals, yet an important factor for success is to remember is to enjoy the journey and be grateful for the learning process.

Our final tip also helps you appreciate your journey.

#6. Stop comparing yourself to others

An impactful way to allow yourself to be grateful and more appreciative is to stop comparing yourself to others.

I get it -- we’re all guilty of doing it -- but letting your ailments of perfectionism roadblock you by benchmarking your business against other people’s ventures is the opposite of being grateful for who you are and the progress you’ve made.

Remember, we’re each on our own entrepreneurial journeys and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next.

If you continue to compare yourself to others, you run the risk of entrepreneurial burnout, which increases your stress levels and ruins your chances of practicing gratitude.

These days, stress runs rampant. In fact, a recent poll logged 74% of people feeling so stressed they were overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Not a pretty picture.

It’s worth noting comparisons that happen on social media are especially potent, so be conscious of the time you spend scrolling through other people’s supposedly ideal lives.

Emma Seppaelae, science director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University and the author of The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success, warns:

"When we use social media just to passively view others' posts, our happiness decreases. We compare ourselves to others, get lost in their idealized lives, and forget to enjoy our own."

All in all:

Stop comparing yourself to other people. While social platforms have many marketing and interactive benefits, when used as a comparison tool, it can be hazardous to both your well-being and your business.

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And as you know, so much of your business success is reliant on your overall well-being and resilience.

Practice gratitude daily to boost your business (and your life)

Even if it sounds hokey, the power of gratitude is real and well worth incorporating into your daily life.

Why? Let’s recap:

  • Among the many benefits of gratitude, top ones include expanding your network, improving both your mental and physical health, and increasing your business’s bottom line.
  • To practice gratitude daily, use six convenient habits, including keeping a gratitude journal and reflecting on your journey while reframing your negative thoughts.
  • You should also openly appreciate your colleagues and customers. All parties benefit when you do.
  • Thanking your failures, too, is likewise a worthwhile practice because it forces you to appreciate your journey, learn from your pitfalls, and build up resilience.
  • Finally, to allow yourself to be grateful, stop comparing yourself to others. It can be destructive and a roadblock to your success.

If you feel like you’re in a rut, practice gratitude regularly to pull yourself out. Just give it a whirl and see for yourself how impactful it can be, especially over time.

And on the note of gratitude, I’d like to close this with my own:

Thank you for being you and for continuing to pursue your entrepreneurial journey. The world needs more creators like you.