In the last week, I had the good fortune of finishing The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. At the same time, an opportunity arose to listen to Doug Smith, another expert on the topic of Positive Psychology. Smith, the author of Happiness: The Art of Living with Peace, Confidence and Joy, did a series of talks called The Flourishing Life last week. In the sessions, Smith emphasized the importance that gratitude plays in the lives of people who maintain a more positive mindset.
Smith had those in attendance do a quick exercise where he asked them to scan the room for everything that was the color blue. After about 30 seconds, he stopped us and asked us how many green things we saw. The point here was that we saw what we were looking for and it can be the same with our mindset if we are spending too much time citing all that is wrong with our lives and just seeing the negative behaviors of those around us.
The best news is that we can improve our ability to show gratitude. Start a daily ritual of sharing one thing you are grateful for at dinner each night or start a daily gratitude journal. If you are a leader, think about ways to infuse opportunities into meetings so that people can share gratitude. If you are a teacher, look for regular opportunities for students to share gratitude.
For some research on the benefits of gratitude, check out this study from the University of California, Davis.