It’s not often that someone who is dying counts their blessings. With only six months left to live, as reported in The Washington Post, neuroscientist and author, Oliver Sacks did just that. Sacks, diagnosed with terminal cancer, wrote a series of inspiring essays just before he died titled Gratitude. Why be thankful this season? If for no other reason, the act of giving thanks is scientifically proven to uplift our mood, increase productivity, and bring us closer to others. By taking note of what we’re grateful for, we remove ourselves from the fear center in our brains, allowing us to rewire our neuro-pathways towards a better life.
Here’s three ways how gratitude can drive more sales and improve your life:
#1. Conduct an appreciation audit. Marty Seligman, the father of the positive psychology movement, suggests you write down three things you feel grateful for in a journal for thirty days. For example, today, I might write my dog, Mamie, my family, and pedicures.
The next day, I may write living in Park City, French fries, and my mother. When you maintain a gratitude journal, you increase your happiness. Research by Seligman shows that optimists outperform pessimists by 38%!
2. Say “thank you.” Think for a moment about the genuine joy you receive when you pause and say “thank you.” Count the things, people, and circumstances for which you are grateful. In 2014—the year of Facebook’s 10th anniversary—CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg revealed that he was challenging himself to write one “well-considered thank-you note every day, via e-mail or handwritten letter.” “Thank you” forces your brain to focus on what’s right and will create the mental mindset you’ll need to tackle your day.
3. Create deeper connections—not just more of them. I wish I had a dollar for every person who has over 5,000 Facebook friends, but is still alone on a Friday night. If I did, I’d take them all out to a big Friday night dinner! To paraphrase speaker and author, Shasta Nelson, while social media connection is at an all-time high, deep human connection between individuals is at an all-time low. Social media companies have responded by creating groups and algorithms to help us connect with more people just like us—with the same hobbies, interests, and political affiliations. We fill our networks with so-called friends, but many of us remain unfulfilled.
Of course, Thanksgiving is a holiday to connect with friends and family. Although this year, more than ever, you may sharply disagree about political views. My recommendation? Be less concerned about political correctness and more fervent about emotional correctness. In other words, in life, people disagree—whether it’s about politics, raising children, or committing to a purchase. Be grateful for your differences. Any improvement—no matter how big or small—is influenced by a lot of people. It’s our differences that give our lives meaning and allow us to grow and live fully. As the late Oliver Sacks said, “Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.”