It’s natural to be feeling in a bit of a slump right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues without a clear end in sight, and we’re missing some of the human interaction and freedoms we once enjoyed liberally. It might be a good idea to turn away from the screen, pull out a pen and paper and write a gratitude letter. This simple act of gratitude can actually make a huge difference, both in your professional and personal life.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is the simple quality of paying attention to good things, being thankful and ready to show appreciation and to return kindness. It’s also known as thankfulness, appreciation, recognition and acknowledgement – all proactive behaviours that can build an engaged workforce and a happy home.
Why does gratitude matter?
As noted by Harvard Health, positive psychology research suggests that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. There is a wealth of supporting evidence available on the benefits of gratitude to your mood, outlook, health, relationships and your ability to face adversity. It’s actually been shown to reduce our cortisol levels (stress hormone) by 23%.
We cannot underestimate the positive impact of expressing gratitude, and when you write and send a letter, the feeling is mutual. Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, found this in his positive psychology research with 411 people in 2005. When the group’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.
How to write a gratitude letter
The practise of writing a gratitude letter need not be complicated. Simply close your laptop, put the phone away and pull out a piece of paper and a pen and say thank you to someone who deserves your praise. Be specific about why you’re grateful. You can choose to send the letter or keep if for yourself – the act of simply articulating your thanks will benefit your wellbeing.
In the workplace, an alternative to the handwritten letter could be a simple thank you email or providing positive feedback to peers in daily conversations. It’s easy to overlook the good, but when we do pay attention and acknowledge it, we all benefit and the business does too. Gallop research suggests that recognition is a powerful determinant for employee engagement and retention. And according to Waters (2012), gratitude predicates job satisfaction by 24.8%.
Writing a gratitude letter is one of the impactful activities we undertake in the Gratitude segment of the Oranges program. This program is usually delivered as part of our seven-segment Oranges workshop covering Optimism, Resilience, Attitude, Now, Gratitude, Energy and Strengths – now available in virtual classrooms too.
A gratitude letter example
This is an example of an expressive gratitude letter that one of our facilitators, Gina Brooks, received after a two-day workshop program recently:
“I am grateful to the Oranges program for giving me the opportunity to look at myself and discover things about myself in a way that is useful. A way that I can learn from these discoveries and benefit from them rather than punish myself for them.
I am grateful for the opportunity to learn a new way of thinking that I can pass on to my son, new ways of doing things that I can show him so that he also benefits from the Oranges program.
I am grateful that my son and I have been given the chance to do things differently to the way we always have, so that the outcomes will be different to what they have always been.
I am grateful that Gina presents the program in a way that I understand and can work with. A way that makes me feel more positive about the past and has helped me to be positive in the now and look positively at the future.
I am grateful for the human ability to learn quickly and to change so that I can make the most of two days.
I am grateful for my new way of thinking because for the first time, I feel like I have the tools to be who I have always wanted to be.
Thank you Gina and Oranges!”
Cultivating gratitude in your workplace
Practising gratitude, and the frameworks for doing so, are part of a range of practical tools in our programs, informed by positive psychology, neuroscience and emotional intelligence. The Oranges Toolkit's practical tools could help to transform your organisational culture and performance. If you’d like advice on how we could support you to increase positive workplace behaviour, get in touch with us today.