One Behaviour Separates The Successful Professionals From The Average

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

Carl Jung

We as humans have that unique ability which is the power of discernment to choice between right and wrong. This propels us to move forward, to strive to be successful and the best version of ourself. We often tend to be on auto pilot mode and engage in herd behaviour which sometimes defeats the whole process. So I invite you today to explore the most simple behaviour of gratitude to illuminate your life and move towards inner and outer success.

How can a grateful heart be the solution to our problems and the way to live a successful life? Aren’t we born with gratitude? Think twice. When is the last time you said ‘thank you’ and meant it from the bottom of your heart? When is the last time you allowed someone to touch the depths of your heart? We often create a protective shield of suspicion and caution around us that does not allow to truly feel the warmth of our own human nature and humanity around us. Gratitude as the quote by the Swiss Psychiatrist Jung states is key for the development of anyone going through growth. Sucess is a state that we are trying to achieve so we are aspiring to expand and prosper. Gratitude is the foundation upon which we can build our prosperity.

One of biggest obstacles to feel grateful and love which is the core of our existence is our thinking, analytical mind, our inner critic. Of course it serves a purpose, we need our rational mind to make decisions so we can move forward in life. However when we over stretch our thinking mind and go on overdrive, we are unable to see the the trees from the wood. Everything becomes blurred and we are unable to connect to our core. However we cannot neglect this part of our existence so let us engage it in research, science and evidence so it is satisfied and will allow us flood our being with gratitude. In this article we will be touching upon the following aspects of gratitude:

  • The link between success, average and gratitude
  • What is Gratitude?
  • What the benefits of gratitude?
  • How can we be grateful
  • Language of Gratitude
  • Make Gratitude a habit

The link between success, average and gratitude

We often equate success with material wealth and prestige and being average when ones ends our met. What we fail to understand that if we are able to evoke gratitude in our life then the average man automatically becomes successful. Gratitude an be perceived as the lens we choose to wear to view the world. We may have everything in life however if we are unable to be grateful then our worldly possessions will not mount to anything at all. On the other hand we may be living mediocre life however have embedded the practice of gratitude in our life and we will be oozes happiness and bliss.

When we are able cultivate gratitude the world changes for us and this allows us to be on the surfboard of abundance. We can glide through life with a smile on our face because we can see the silver lining in everything. When we build and respond from a platform of gratitude this automatically makes us more centred and aligned which is maximises our opportunity to be successful. One way to understand how gratitude work is to explore the absence of gratitude. Envy is the opposite of gratitude and when we are jealous of others, negative emotions such as resentment, unhealthy competition crops. This hinders our progress because we keep measuring our results with others. Whereas in a state of gratitude we are able to grow to unimaginable heights because we not comparing which helps us move from being limited to being limitless.

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness, wonder and awe. It is a precursor to relinquish the the negative bias.

When we are able to express gratitude, it releases dopamine and serotonin in our brain. These both are neurotransmitters which have a crucial role in the emotions and feelings we experience. They are the source of the ‘feel good’ factor in our life. A gratitude practice firmly establishes the neural pathways which are strengthened by repetition of the grateful attitude leading to permanent positive nature within ourself (Fletcher, 2016).

The medial prefrontal cortex is the area in the brain which is linked to learning and making decisions. This is key for us to think objectively so we can be successful and move forward in a logically manner. There are studies to indicate that expressing gratitude creates a surge of activity in the medial prefrontal cortex area of the brain (Kini et al, 2015).

What are the benefits of gratitude?

Sonja Lyubomirsky who is a prominent positive psychology researcher and also the author of several books on happiness has concluded that a gratitude practice is a pathway to enhance the experience of positive emotions and a self improvement. She identifies 8 ways in which gratitude builds happiness. They are simple yet effective. Once you start this practice you will automatically feel these effects, they are subtle yet profound.

Firstly it encourages you to experience the postive in life. We often react and we are existing rather than living, so being grateful helps us witness the positive in our life, which is the launch pad from which we can choice to respond rather than react.

Secondly it boosts yourself esteem. We often do not have much choice of our external circumstances but we do have choice how we feel about ourselves. So being grateful helps us to value our self more and feel worthy.

Thirdly it helps us cope with with stress and create resistance to adjust to challenging circumstances. It is like a secret personal technique to help us navigate through the ebbs and flows of life.

Fourthly it it deters negative emotions. It is the armour that shields us from our own negativity.

Fifthly it promotes positive behaviour. Feeling positive already puts you on a high and is a source of success.

Sixthly it nurtures relationships and reduces feelings of envy. As they say ’no man is an island’ so being grateful helps us cultivate good relationships in our life. Rather than comparing ourselves with others and then spiralling into competition it helps us appreciate what we have.

Seventhly it reduces our feeling of taking thing for granted. We often do not have time to look around ourselves to see what we have so we take everything around us for granted. So gratitude helps us take a step back, look at things in totality and cherish what we have.

Lastly it also enhances our motivation to engage in physical activity which leads to fewer bodily ailments. Feeling movement in our body helps us go with the flow even if it is small movements it is all a step in the right direction

How can we be grateful?

When we look around us we think how can we be grateful, I just have the bare minimum, does this actually count? We often expect all our desires to be fulfilled and only then we will be sigh in gratitude. That is not the case. The fact that we are awake and have the cognition to read these words is a fantastic way to start being grateful. Here are some other simple examples that we can be inspired to be grateful.

  • I have shelter which protects me from the adverse effects of the weather.
  • There are pipes in my house that allow gas and water to come into my house to fulfil my basic needs.
  • There is electricity in my house which is the source of artificial life.
  • I have the ability to go from A to B and discover nature which is a source of inner warmth.
  • I have access to a phone, laptop, tablet and access to the internet which helps me connect to the world.

The list can go on a and you can modify it to suit your circumstances. Even if you are feeling low there is always something that you can feel grateful for.

Language of Gratitude

The language we use has a great impact on how we feel. If you are always using negative, belittling, patronising language that will automatically makes you feel despondent. So try to reprogram the way you talk by taking small steps to incorporate the language of gratitude.

First just start by making a conscious effort to reverse this negativity bias we have. When you hear yourself thinking in a negative manner or complaining, notice this instinct and try your best to see what is positive. Try and count your blessing rather than your burdens. It is all about training your mind to see that your half glass is actually full rather than empty. You can go to the extent of being grateful you have a glass in the first place.

Secondly start by incorporating words such as thank you in your daily language. Another way is to use the phrase ‘I’m grateful for….’ and you can fill the blanks. Just these small little changes in your life will transform your attitude and outlook. If you find it hard to to say this in public, just repeat these aloud in front of the mirror and notice how it feels. The more you repeat this the better you feel and this feeling of gratitude is infectious so you will continue doing it.

Make Gratitude a habit

One of the ways to incorporate a grateful attitude is to make it a habit. Everyone is different so the purpose here is to inspire you to engage in what feels right rather than being prescriptive.

One way to be grateful is to write down every day three things you are grateful and try be creative so these three things are different. As time goes on you can stick with three the three most important things that you are grateful for.

First thing in the morning when you are brushing your teeth, in front of the mirror you can express gratitude. When you are making and / or drinking your morning drink just be grateful that you have this wonderful opportunity every day.

A wonderful exercise which is to go for a gratitude work. You can incorporate whenever you go out and it is such a heart warming exercise. During your walk, low your guard, breath deeply and tune into what surrounds you. You will definitely find something to be grateful for.

Often we are so busy and caught up in our own thoughts that we do not have time to as poet William Henry Davies writes,

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.”

Concluding thoughts

The aim of this article was to inspire you to see the link between how being grateful is positively correlated with being successful. We covered what gratitude is, the benefits of gratitude, how we can be grateful, the language of gratitude and how we can make gratitude a habit.

Psychologist David Pollay states that there are four foundations to gratitude.

  1. Firstly gratitude reminds you for the key people in your life, who love and support you; this is significant because we know that having good relationships is characteristic of happy people.
  2. Secondly gratitude acts as a reminder of your strengths — the natural talents that help you to move forward and reach goals.
  3. Thirdly gratitude for the things that you have already achieved reminds you of the road already travelled.
  4. Fourthly gratitude acts as a reminder of the wonders of the world such as the miracles of nature which show how mighty oaks can grow from tiny acorns. The grown can occur from the smallest of beginnings is an optimistic thought.

We have surplus evidence how gratitude affects our physiology, mental and emotional frame of mind. So let us try and lighten our load by being grateful. We all have the capacity to be grateful and be successful. So take away just one reflection from this reading — what one action can I incorporate in my daily life to be grateful? If you are able to wake up every morning with this reflection and respond to it, slowly you will start incorporating effortless gratitude in your life. Surround yourself in the cloak of gratitude and experience as Rumi writes,

“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life”.

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Akhtar, M (2012) Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression. London: Watkins.

Kini, Prathik & Wong, Y Joel & McInnis, Sydney & Gabana, Nicole & Brown, Joshua. (2015). The effects of gratitude expression on neural activity. NeuroImage. 128. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.12.040.

Fletcher, E (2016) The Neuroscience of Gratitude . Linkedin article

Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2004). The Psychology of Gratitude (Series in Affective Science). New York: Oxford University Press.

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