People mistakenly think gratitude comes more easily to those who have attained wealth or success. But as media mogul Oprah Winfrey explained this spring to CNN, she's not grateful because she's "a gazillionaire." Instead, practicing gratitude is how she "got to be a gazillionaire."
In fact, some of the most successful leaders attribute their success to making gratitude part of their daily routine. To be sure, studies have shown that gratitude for even the simplest tasks can improve many aspects of your life, such as personal well-being and others' happiness. It can also boost workplace morale and engagement, helping you work better with others.
To better work gratitude into your daily routine, learn how top leaders make time to be thankful.
Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington lists out three things she's grateful for each day but notes that this list does not need to consist of big moments. "It can be the cafe latte you had or a couple of moments with a dear friend or a song," she said.
Even a simple "Thank you" when you wake can be powerful. Oprah Winfrey told CNN last year that "Thank you" is the first thing she says every morning, before she's even truly awake. The move acknowledges that she's grateful to be alive, present and in a body. She does this before she does anything else in the morning, before she even reaches for her phone.
Build a gratitude habit that you can easily maintain. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter, has developed a number of routines that help him run two companies at once. This consistency, he explained on Product Hunt, "allows a steady state that enables me to be more effective."
His gratitude routine includes a series of questions that help him connect with a bigger picture. He asks himself: "What truth did I discover?" and "Who did I help?" Finally, he'll ask himself "What am I grateful for?" He said he answers these questions every night before he goes to sleep.
Self-made millionaire Tony Robbins told CNBC Make It that his 10-minute morning routine not only helps him have a more successful day, but also staves off anger or fear that can lead to poor investing or life choices.
"You can't be fearful and grateful simultaneously," Robbins said, "so if you want to conquer those [emotions], maybe it's time to train your nervous system to go into gratitude more naturally."
Robbins said he takes these three steps:
1. He focuses on something very simple that makes him feel grateful, like the wind in his face or a child's smile.
2. He devotes three minutes to prayer. During this time he "sends energy" to his family, coworkers and others.
3. He completes "three to thrive," taking the final three minutes of his routine to identify three results he's committed to achieving.
Taking these few moments each day are key, Robbins said, and manageable for anyone at any age or stage of their career. "If you don't have 10 minutes for your life, then you don't have a life. There's no excuse."
Huffington starts and ends her day with three things she's grateful for. To make your gratitude list even more effective, the founder recommends that you share it among friends and family.
Sharing your list could become part of your dinnertime conversations or even lead to quick text messages where you tell someone how much you appreciate them.
"I promise you it begins to change the quality of the day," she added.
If you think you're too busy for a gratitude routine, you're not alone. Though Oprah Winfrey has kept gratitude journals for years, and has stacks of these journals by her bed, she has sometimes strayed from the practice. She said when she was busy building the OWN network, for instance, she didn't always make the gratitude journals a priority. As a result, she felt less joy after her successes.
If you've broken your own gratitude routine, find easy ways to work thankfulness back in. Winfrey sometimes keeps her journal electronically, jotting down what she was thankful for in the moment, she wrote in O, The Oprah Magazine.
Wrote Winfrey: "You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you're aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots."
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