Attitude of Gratitude: Why Thankful People Are Successful People

Happy colleaguesLegendary author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar said “gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” We all know people who are eternally positive. They relish the opportunity to start a new day and always take on any challenge that comes their way with grace and optimism. And in return for the thankful vibes they put out into the world, good fortune is often bestowed upon them.

So, what exactly is it about thankful people that makes them wired for success?

They have a loyal following.
Leaders who are genuinely thankful for the talent, work ethic, and commitment of the people they lead and make a conscious commitment to show it, have a devoted following of employees who will always be willing and prepared to follow them into battle.

According to a Harvard Health Publications article that summarized the findings of several studies on gratitude, “Managers who remember to say ‘thank you’ to people who work for them may find that those employees feel motivated to work harder.” Recognition is a powerful motivator that can build employee retention and increase productivity; however, a lack thereof can have an equally negative effect. Results from a 2013 Gallup survey revealed only 45% of men and 50% of women are satisfied with the recognition they receive at work for their accomplishments. If an employee is putting in long hours and going beyond the call of duty to achieve company goals, but feels their extra effort is going unnoticed by their leaders, what motivation do they have to maintain that level of work?

They are healthier in mind, body, and spirit.
Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a leading scientific expert on gratitude at the University of California, Davis, asked patients suffering from severe neuromuscular disorders to keep a journal of the things in their lives that make them feel grateful. When he checked in with the group after two weeks of journaling, he discovered something incredible:  

“…not only did they find reasons to be grateful, but they also experienced significantly more positive emotions than a similar group that didn’t keep a gratitude journal. The gratitude group also felt more optimistic about the upcoming week, felt more connected to others (even though many of them lived alone), and reported getting more sleep each night—an important indicator of overall health and well-being.”

Thankful people not only have healthier relationships with others, but they also experience healthier relationships with themselves. Being comfortable with ourselves and thankful for the things in our lives that bring us joy leads to a more optimistic outlook. And optimism is one of the most important characteristics of successful people.

They’re masters of perspective.
Even in the most challenging of situations, thankful people have the ability to recognize the good. They see the silver lining and rather than being discouraged by adversity, they are energized by the opportunity they’ve been given to step into the unknown and blaze a new trail forward. And although they’re not by any means immune to failure, because of their optimistic disposition, they’re better equipped to learn from and respond to it.

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” – Lucille Ball

The ability to be thankful for what you have achieved and to put challenges that arise in the proper perspective goes hand in hand with success.

Developing an attitude of gratitude
From making lists of the people and things that make you feel thankful to shedding yourself of toxic relationships or situations, embracing an attitude of gratitude is achievable for anyone willing to try. Check out these other Refresh Leadership articles for more insight into why thankful people are successful people.

Are you a thankful person? How has it affected your professional success? What are some ways being thankful helps in your personal life? Let us know in the comments section below.

4 Responses to Attitude of Gratitude: Why Thankful People Are Successful People

  1. Dawn May November 1, 2016 at 8:14 am #


  2. Sarah Ortiz-Brown November 1, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Great article on gratitude. Thank you!

  3. Lori Martin November 2, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

    Needed a dose of this!

  4. Antonio January 6, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

    Thank you

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