Your Welcoa membership has expired.

Gratitude Changes Everything

BY: Lori Thomas

Gratitude stems from the Latin word gratus meaning ‘pleasing, thankful’. It is a feeling or expression of appreciation for what we have. As with many human emotions, some of us experience and practice gratitude more than others. While many people are familiar with the concept of gratitude, not as many are familiar with why or how to express it.

Why Gratitude is Important

Multiple studies have found that over time, practicing gratitude actually increases happiness and provides other physiological and psychological benefits. Scientific expert, UC Davis psychologist, and author Robert Emmons found that people who practice gratitude consistently reported the following benefits:

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness
  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.

How to Practice Gratitude

While gratitude can be a feeling that spontaneously emerges from within, it is also a choice. We have to choose to practice gratitude. Because there are various ways to practice gratitude, the trick is to find the ones that work best for you.

Here are a few examples to get you started:
  • Gratitude Journal – Write down not only the things that you are grateful for, but also why you are grateful for them.
  • Gratitude Letters – Write to somebody that you are grateful for and express to them why you are grateful and what they mean to you. Not only will you increase your happiness, but also theirs!
  • Gratitude Jar – Every day write down one thing that you are grateful for from that day and place it in a jar. On New Year’s Eve open the jar and read the wonderful things that you were grateful for from the entire year! This is a great thing to do with others (family, friends, coworkers).
  • Be Grateful in the Moment – Take the time to recognize something that makes you feel grateful in the moment! We are surrounded every day by beauty and goodness&emdash;sunsets, birds chirping, kids playing, your favorite song, a co-worker laughing. Be aware of those things and recognize them and how they make you feel.
  • Gratitude in Difficult Times – Life comes with challenges. The secret is to practice gratitude during those difficult and challenging times. Celebrate the little things during these times—give thanks for things that may be overlooked normally. And finally, find the good in the bad; maybe it is something you learned or an experience from which you grew.

Practicing gratitude fits well with the sixth of WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks (Cultivate Supportive Health Promoting Environments, Policies, and Practices). The focus of Benchmark 6 is to foster supportive environments, policies, and practices which are grounded in the core vision and purpose of the organization, allowing the workplace environment to support the basic human needs of autonomy, relatedness, and competence, and to build connections, strengthen relationships, and reinforce team collaboration.

No matter how you choose to practice gratitude, the most important piece is simply to start. It is as simple as acknowledging the goodness in your life. How wonderful that something as simple as that can help people connect to themselves as well as to other people, nature, etc., make us aware of the opportunities to learn and grow, and to extend ourselves with care and compassion to ourselves and others!

WELCOA Resources

Planning Template:
Benchmark 6: Cultivate Supportive Health Promoting Environments, Policies and Practices
2017 Summit Keynote by Andrew Horn (Tribute):
Transform the Workplace with Gratitude and Employee Recognition
Expert Interviews:
WOOPAAH: Tangible Ideas to Work Happier, Live Better
Four Virtues of a Leader
WELCOA Institute:
The Science of Happiness
Blog Posts:
Gratitude at Work: Ending the Cycle of Ingratitude
Quickest Path to Happiness
Show Gratitude, Be Happy
Reducing Stress for High Performing Professionals
Lori Thomas
Lori Thomas // Member Education Manager • WELCOA

Lori brings a unique level of expertise and perspective with a diverse background in wellness, workplace culture, and employee experience. She is a compassionate and driven woman who has a passion for helping others and radiates positivity. As WELCOA’s Member Education Manager, she provides creative insight to enhancing the member experience.