One of the ideas I teach in my workshops is gratitude in the workplace.
And one exercise I ask them to do is to
- keep a gratitude journal for a few days. I guide them on what kind of things they could be grateful for based on tips by Dr Robert Emmons and Dr Sonja Lyubomirsky.
- then share at least one item from the journal with their colleagues. The sharing takes place during my workshops. Sometimes it takes place before my workshop too.
- listen actively and appreciatively to each other's gratitude stories. I ask them to appreciate the person sharing for their strengths or tell the person how their sharing positively impacted them.
Impact of Exercise: This sharing of gratitude usually lights up people in such a remarkable way. People smile and laugh and a radiance illuminates the room during this exercise.
People learn from and are inspired by each other's gratitude stories. Some say: "I had never thought of being grateful for that!"
Please learn about each other things that they otherwise may not. It opens up space for people at work to also share personal joys if they choose to, humanising bonds between staff. They are not just thanking each other for workplace related matters. They are opening up treasures in their lives in a safe space.
Amazing, miraculous, joyful things emerge during these stories. I remember one participant who was so excited to share about birds which had made a nest, laid eggs and hatched the babies in her home. She was so animated when speaking! I see this happening continually.
Gratitude Sharing and Positivity Resonance
The gratitude journal is a well-used intervention. By facilitating the sharing of items from the journal in circles where people listen appreciatively, we are amplifying the effect even more.
In these gratitude circles, I believe people could be experiencing what positive psychology researcher Dr Barbara Fredrickson calls “positivity resonance—the idea that when two people share a positive emotion, it is unfurling across their two brains and bodies at the same time.” She says “Love is like an essential nutrient. [These] micro-moments of positivity resonance build bonds, weave the social fabric that creates our community, promote health and arguably are the supreme emotion.” One of my aims is to enable people to feel more positivity resonance at work and build uplifting bonds with others and this gratitude circle helps with that.
Workplace application: I encourage clients to start some staff meetings with this exercise or a variation of it. Or even set aside time to do this separately. A few have told me they did do it and had positive results.
This photo was taken at a gratitude sharing circle I ran for the Singapore Kindness Movement (which has a kindness at work initiative and is a partner organisation I collaborate with). Their good work can be seen at kindness.sg.