The Link between Gratitude and Career Success

It’s common for people to believe that they’ll be happy once some positive event occurs.  For instance, “I’ll be happy after I get that promotion,” or “I know I’ll feel better once I get my new car.”  However, when we feel positive—grateful even—in advance of the experience we’re waiting for, we actually improve our likelihood of having it.  Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, says that research confirms that happiness leads to our success, rather than the other way around.

In fact, Achor elaborates by adding, “Every single business and educational outcome improves when we start at positive rather than waiting for a future success.  Sales improve 37% cross-industry, productivity by 31%, you’re 40% more likely to receive a promotion, nearly 10 times more engaged at work, live longer…and much more.”

So, how can you take advantage of this information to improve your career success?  Below are some expert-recommended tips for feeling more grateful:

  • Keep A Gratitude Journal.  At the end of each day, write down a few things that you are grateful for.  Research shows that this 5-minute activity increases long-term wellbeing by 10% which is equivalent—happiness-wise—to doubling your income.

  • Vow to Practice Gratitude.  By merely writing down your gratitude oath (for example, “I vow to be thankful each day.”) and keeping it in a place where you’ll see it often, you increase the likelihood that you’ll practice gratitude.

  • Embrace Setbacks.  Happy people don’t bury their heads in the sand when negative events occur.  However, they do tend to view their challenges differently.  Rather than adopting a bitter outlook or a victimization mindset, they view things from the perspective of “What have I learned?” and “How did this experience help me to grow?”  Ultimately, gratitude researcher Dr. Robert Emmons says, “the key to leading a thankful life is embracing setbacks as part of your overall journey.”