Gratitude at work

How do we turn one door closing into another door opening?

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There were recently changes at my workplace. When I was discussing these with my daughter I explained that a great consultant was leaving but I was choosing to see this as a door closing and I was just waiting and looking for another door to open. In all of her nine year old wisdom she said to me, “you know mum, I don’t see it like that at all, I just see a long hallway with lots of doors opening all the time.” When do we lose sight of that long hallway? I think I found it difficult to be open minded about seeing this current change as an opportunity and not as a challenge, but she just sees opportunities all the time.

As J.K. Rowling said in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban:

“But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

What tools do we have in workplaces to turn on the light to see that long hallway of doors opening? More and more we are told that change is the only constant in workplaces. If this is the case we are surely not going to find all of these changes to our liking so where do we go to turn on the light? Certainly a regular gratitude practice could provide the answer.

Dr. Martin Seligman, founding father of Positive Psychology has said that, “We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.”

So is there space in your working life to savour “what went well?” As a manager do you make space in your team to celebrate the wins? This might be time at the staff meeting for each person to reflect on a win; it could be an all staff email when a compliment comes into the workplace so all the team can celebrate the win and congratulate their colleague; or maybe it is a wall of wins. Maybe it is just a culture where “well done” and “good job” is the vernacular. Is that your workplace?

Perhaps a lunch time workshop talking about the positives of gratitude could at least get the conversation started and shed light on the benefits of this practice. This might be teamed with a journal to record “what went well” at the end of the day; or a regular email prompt to keep an online record. Maybe people won’t use it at work but perhaps they might take it home and ask their kids “what went well,” I think you could consider that a win in itself?

As a workplace how you can you foster an environment where a door closing conjures up a hallway of doors opening? 

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