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By Marka Waechter, CEO 

I have always been a grateful person, but devoting daily periods of time to cultivate gratitude became a daily habit that carried me through some of the bleaker times of the pandemic. This month, with Thanksgiving on the horizon, always brings gratefulness to the forefront.

This November, the feelings of gratitude are more acute at SHW. Our hospitality company is emerging from the ravages of the pandemic now that live events are slowly starting to return. Thanks to the patience, persistence, and optimism of partners, suppliers, and staff, this season brings realistic hope that the industry will return to some semblance of normal in 2022.   

Gratitude is a powerful thing, which is why SHW is devoting this month to expressing our thankfulness for clients, partners, and each other. International research studies, from the University of Washington to the University of Manchester in the U.K., point out how a practice of gratitude can change the neurons in your brain and improve your overall well-being. Rewiring our brains by reflecting on the little and big things we have to be grateful for can truly make us happier, less anxious, and lead to living our best life!

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So how do you do that? UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center published their top six (science-backed) habits that makes a practice of gratitude most effective. 

  1. Think about loss. Envision a devastating loss before it happens. For example, imagine your life without your partner. You’ll naturally feel more gratitude to what they bring to your life each day. Then express that gratitude. 
  2. Practice mindfulness. Savoring positive experiences in the moment make them stickier in your brain. Starting small – like noticing and breathing in the smell of bread baking while you’re walking past a bakery – is a great start. 
  3. Spread the love. Focus on people in addition to the sights, sounds, and smells that give you joy. Expressions of thanks engages your biological systems for trust and affection, and turns on the faucet for pleasure and reward hormones. 
  4. Avoid entitlement. You can’t exist without the complex interconnectedness of the human race. Acknowledge that your parents made you; farmers toiled to bring you food; nurse practitioners healed you; carpenters pounded nails to build your home. The world doesn’t owe you a living. 
  5. Be authentic and specific. When expressing gratitude to someone, show you’re paying attention to the intent and sacrifice they’re giving. Did they fill up your car with gas at 10 p.m., so you wouldn’t have to get up early? Say, “I appreciate that you went out on a rainy night to fill up my car, even though you were ready for bed. You know how difficult it is for me to get up even 10 minutes early.” Simple gestures like smiles and spontaneous hugs are other great authentic non-verbal actions.
  6. Find thanks in crummy situations. This is for when you’re ready to plunge deeper into the gratitude pool – advanced gratitude, if you will. Consider the negative situation you’re in, but look at it through a lens of thankfulness. How can you change the situation into an opportunity for growth? With devastating loss, it’s a difficult exercise, but worthwhile when you achieve it. 

For our data driven readers, here’s some research-backed impacts of gratitude:

Relieve anxiety and depression. Gratitude isn’t a replacement for mental health care but acknowledging the good in your life – and crowding out too much bad stuff – helps you let go of anxiety. 

Improve heart health and sleep. One university studied the effects of daily recording patients’ gratitude. Participants who consistently wrote down their appreciations reduced their need for medical intervention for their heart health, and had an easier time falling and staying asleep. 

Be grateful at work. Boss or colleague, a little thanks goes a long way. A study at The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania showed that a note of gratitude boosts worker performance by 50%. 

Improve psychology. Grateful people have the internal psychological resources to cope with stress – instead of letting the negative thoughts swirl in your brain. Those grateful folks are productive in overcoming their stress by asking for help, actively coping and planning their way through trauma, and looking for the good in a bad situation. 

Please look for us on social media this month as we express gratitude.  #SHWISGRATEFUL           

Thank you for reading, I hope these shorter days and blustery nights find you in a warm home, and a season filled with holiday celebrations and gatherings with loved ones.