A few weeks ago, I was facilitating leadership training for some executives, and one of my questions to them was, “what do you think is the best way to beautifully end your 2021 and start your year 2022?”

Some of the answers of these directors are as below:

“Achieving my set targets, earning a great bonus, being able to submit my MBA project work, taking a vacation with the family, looking for a time to rest, getting a new car, moving into a new house, etc.” The list was endless… but an answer a lady gave me struck a chord in me. She said, “I am going to sit down, write out my blessings, name them one by one and be grateful for them.” What an answer!

In this article, we will discuss some benefits of gratitude and see how to make it a lifestyle.

First, let us define gratitude. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus, which means “thankful, pleasing.” When you feel gratitude, you are pleased by what someone did for you and pleased by the results. According to Oxford Dictionary, “Gratitude is also the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

What kind of impact gratitude can have on us for the year 2022

Gratitude is not a feeling, but a decision: Gratitude goes together with “attitude”. “Count your blessings, name them one by one” are the lyrics of a popular song, but this does not come automatically. Instead, we need to consciously choose to practice gratitude. “Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices“, remarks Robert Braath.

Gratitude helps to have a happier, joyful and fulfilled life: According to Amy Collette, “Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.” People who are grateful are happier, according to Psychologists. A study showed that a single thoughtful appreciation leads to an immediate 10 percent increase in happiness and a 35 percent reduction in depressive symptoms. When it becomes a habit, it can help prevent anxiety and depression. Once we cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to us, we find the energy and drive to motivate ourselves and be focused. Then we are able to achieve more than we can imagine.

Gratitude will help to see the future brighter and to enter 2022 with much optimism and greater hope: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity … it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow” observes Melody Beattie.

I met a man who has made gratitude his lifestyle, and one of his favourite quotes is “the future is bright”. He is optimistic and has the ability to seize great opportunities. What a great businessman and leader!

Gratitude will affect your mental, professional, physical and social health: When we experience or practice gratitude, the brain releases hormones linked with social behaviour. Dr Susan Ferguson says when humans feel gratitude, the brain produces oxytocin, a hormone important to bonding”. Oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are often referred to as “happy hormones”, and they have such great positive impact on our health and immune systems. One of the best ways to increase them is to make gratitude and thanksgiving our lifestyle. 

Grateful people are less focused on themselves and others’ needs. They are able to relate better with others. John Ortberg adds, “Gratitude liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation”.

As a leader or executive, to get your team to give you their best, you must learn to appreciate them often. “A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.” – Brigette Hyacinth.

Practising gratitude to be healthy mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually is really powerful. Zig Ziglar affirms, “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.”

Some Practical ways of being grateful for 2021

  • Kindly take stock of the year 2021.
  • Start reviewing the year 2021 from January 2021 till December 2021.
  • Write down all the good things you have enjoyed.
  • Write a list of the people you are grateful for and let them know.
  • Being grateful for the painful and bad experiences and lost opportunities empowers, liberates us from fear, and helps convert these painful experiences into rich experiences, which can serve us and others.
  • It is a good time to get a gratitude journal ready for 2022.
  • For now, decide to write daily three things for which you are grateful
  • Get a gratitude friend or buddy to help you sustain your gratitude practice.

As you decide to “count and name your blessings” for 2021 one by one and express sincere gratitude for them, you will see how it will affect your perspective about 2022 and how bright the future will look for you. So now “go and make gratitude your lifestyle” and “wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life,” advises Rumi.

Have a Happy New Year 2022 with gratitude as a lifestyle!!!

Patrick Abah-Dakou