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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Can gratitude lead to success? How does it impact our personal and professional lives?

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

Gratitude changes everything written on a napkin next to a mug of coffee

Do you want to be more successful in your personal and professional life? Who doesn’t!?

When thinking about factors that could lead to greater success, gratitude probably doesn’t make most people’s top 10 list, but maybe it should.

The second post in this series, Did you know gratitude is good for you? lists 30 ways we benefit from experiencing gratitude. We learned that the impact of gratitude is measurable and may be greater than we thought.

One area in which gratitude can have a significant impact is in our relationships with others. Numerous studies have shown that when we are grateful and express thanks to others, we are more socially connected, which leads to numerous benefits.

Gratitude inspires prosocial behaviors

Gratitude leads to a host of positive social behaviors. Research has shown that feelings and acts of thankfulness, gratefulness, and appreciation lead people to be more likely to…

  • Demonstrate kindness

  • Help others

  • Volunteer

  • Extend generosity

  • Donate to charity

  • Share with others

  • Forgive others

  • Cooperate with others

  • Extend empathy and emotional support

These behaviors, in addition to gratitude itself, create connections and strengthen our personal and professional relationships.

Gratitude strengthens personal relationships

Giving and receiving expressions of gratitude helps us form relationships with others. It helps us build interpersonal connections as we perceive others to be trustworthy with our feelings and supportive of our needs.

Additionally, gratitude strengthens our existing relational bonds and leads to more satisfying relationships, whether they are between romantic partners, friends, family members, colleagues, or neighbors.

Expressions of gratitude and appreciation in a relationship have a reciprocal effect and lead to more and more feelings and expressions of gratefulness towards one another and others.

Gratitude is also protective of personal relationships. Expressing gratitude within a relationship leads to greater trust and a level of comfort necessary for dealing with relationship conflicts when they arise.

Intervention studies have demonstrated that intentional expressions of gratitude result in stronger and more satisfying relationships.

Gratitude is contagious and leads people to mimic the grateful behaviors of others. This not only creates personal relationships characterized by gratitude but also creates workplaces and organizations with a culture of gratitude.

Gratitude strengthens professional relationships

Expressions of workplace gratitude can be multi-directional: from employer to employee, employee to employer, employee to employee, and to and from customers, clients, and others.

Gratitude in the workplace can be expressed with words of appreciation, thank you notes, and acts of kindness. It also includes more formal employee recognition programs and incorporating expressions of gratitude and appreciation into performance reviews.

When employers and managers express pride and gratitude towards employees who contribute to the organization’s success, employee well-being is enhanced and the organizational climate is improved.

In turn, when employees experience feelings of hope and gratitude and demonstrate a responsibility to contribute and show kindness to others, it creates an organization characterized by helping and appreciating others.

A culture of gratitude in the workplace decreases negative attitudes, lowers stress, and helps prevent burnout. Job satisfaction is greatly increased.

Can gratitude lead to success? Yes! When we make gratitude a habit.

Considering the many benefits of practicing gratitude, it’s worth making it part of our lives on a day-to-day basis. The fourth post in our gratitude discusses a variety of practical ways to make gratitude a habit.

Learn more about the research on gratitude in these white papers: The Science of Gratitude Generosity White Paper

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

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