The Habit of Gratitude

One of the simplest yet most effective lessons I learned after four years with Southwestern was forming the habit of gratitude. Key word habit! It’s easy to take it all in and be grateful when everything is going well. It’s a different story when you wake up to an email that says the deal fell through, your important meeting got cancelled, family issues are happening at home and you walk into the office with more fires to put out than Smokey the Bear. Try being grateful then.

My first summer with Southwestern I remember seeing the top producers and thinking they never had bad days, let alone bad goal periods. Then I had a breakthrough moment when one of them spoke during a weekly training and explained that they too have set backs, they just recognize it more quickly and are able to get themselves out of a rut faster than average people. Top producers control their attitudes themselves; they’re not subjected to whatever external factors happen in their environment.

And whether it’s in business, sports or leadership, this trend of emotional intelligence is seen everywhere. The top performers are self-aware and self adjusting. What separates them from average folk is the ability to recognize and bounce back more quickly. Anyone can be happy and grateful when everything is going well – it’s the true emotional giant who after everything has gone wrong, can be aware and bring themselves back to a state of optimistic calm. Having an attitude of gratitude is one of the easiest ways to do so.


As far as gratitude goes, it’s nearly impossible to have a bad attitude when you remind yourself of everything you’re grateful for. Yet as business owners, young professionals and type A personalities, we have a tendency to never be satisfied or chase the next level, to a fault. How many of us say, ‘I’ll be happy once I have[insert promotion/income level/house/relationship/etc].’ Chasing, reaching, clawing and always in a state of miscontentment we create.

If you develop the habit of gratitude every morning – you’ll start every day in a great place, ready to embrace the challenges and see abundance. In order to develop the emotional muscle and not just do it when life is perfect, it helps to do it every morning for 21 days.  And, the process must be part of your daily routine. Perhaps while you make your coffee, take a shower, or on part of your commute to work. This action will trigger your memory, then for 1-2 minutes, simply state what you’re grateful for out loud, whatever comes to mind. Mine is the drive through our company parking lot as I ramble on for 90 seconds of gratitude before I walk through the door. Try this for 21 days and if your work week isn’t better, you can bill me for Starbucks and donuts to make you feel better!

Thoughts? How do you remain grateful and have a good attitude?  Feel free to comment, disagree, ask questions, or get your #hashtag on. And tune in next week when I discuss reputation management.

4 thoughts on “The Habit of Gratitude

  1. Jody

    Shared this with some of my law school friends since we’re all the Type A people you’re referring to..! Thanks for the tips and the reminder :)

  2. Roland Mott

    I feel gratitude is deeply rooted in the awareness of and involvement in the present moment. Focusing your effort and energies on what lies in front of you, whether it is your work or spending time with a friend or partner. I think it’s important to feel the full range of human emotion, embracing the hurt when someone lets you down, or the empathy for a loved one struggling. Though this is not a place to dwell, but instead a place to understand the complexity of life and the role you play allowing you to embrace vulnerability but foster self-confidence and empowerment. We can learn from every experience in life, a heart of gratitude opens the door for that learning. I like your thoughts and your blog Pat. Thanks for letting me share and rant a little.

    1. admin Post author

      Roland! Thanks for reading and elaborating. Gratitude is being aware and opens the door for learning – love it.


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