Everyone has bad days at work. You hit an unexpected complication with a project you’ve been working on for weeks. A colleague snaps at you in a meeting. You forget to put something on your calendar and leave a key client waiting. Whatever the root of your workplace problem, one effect it has is to make you feel more alone. In those bad moments, you feel as though your colleagues are upset and you can only rely on yourself.
In those moments, a little gratitude can help. Sure it might seem hokey, but there’s a reason gratitude is always showing up on tea bags and in self-help books. According to research, practicing gratitude can help make you happier.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by a problem at work, take a minute and think of someone in your life that you’re grateful for. Write a sentence or two on a notepad about why you feel appreciative.
Why will that make you feel better? Gratitude is often an emotion you feel when someone else has gone out of their way to do something helpful for you that they didn’t have to do. That person has done something that is altruistic, and have given of themselves in order to make your life a little—or perhaps a lot—better.
All of us have people in our lives who fit that bill. It might be a relative who took care of you when you were little, a mentor who went above and beyond to help you out in a tough situation, or a colleague who put you up for a great opportunity. In those dark moments when things have gone wrong at work, we forget all of the people who have stepped up to help us over the course of our careers.
Picking one of those folks out and reminding yourself of why you’re grateful to them has two benefits. For one, it gets you thinking about something positive, which can lift your mood. It also reminds you of the deep social connections you have so that you don’t feel quite as isolated anymore.
And the beauty of maintaining a list of people you’re grateful for is that it doesn’t require a significant time commitment at any given moment to help make yourself feel a little better.
For an added dose of uplift, send a note to the person you identified. Let them know that you were thinking about the impact they had on your life and that you appreciate it.
Research on mood shows that unexpected rewards lift people’s moods. So, a note from you out of the blue is virtually guaranteed to make someone else’s day better too. On top of that, anything you do that helps others also feeds back and makes you feel better as well.