How cultivating gratitude enhances creativity and well-being

Deepak Chopra says, “Gratitude opens the door to … the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the universe,” and I believe that to be true. He also says, “The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety.”

Gratitude is the antidote to anxiety and fear, allowing feelings of grace, wellbeing and optimism to flow. Scientific studies have proven there is a link between gratitude and creative problem solving. When we experience positive emotions we enhance our ability to solve problems and come up with more ideas for action.

“The greater your capacity for sincere appreciation, the deeper the connection to your heart, where intuition and unlimited inspiration and possibilities reside.” —HeartMath Institute

When you face setbacks and crises with an attitude of gratitude, it does not mean you deny the situation. It means calling forth your creative powers, and being open to an epiphany, so that you can transform your crisis into an opportunity. Gratitude, like creativity, can be developed through practice.

Develop your heart intelligence

One practice I have adapted from HeartMath, is to place my hand on my heart, and focus on breathing into my heart while repeating the word “Gratitude.” I usually feel an instant energy shift. You can do this at anytime, even while walking, and with a little practice you can simply focus on your breath while inwardly invoking gratitude. Visit the HeartMath website for more appreciation tools. 

“What you appreciate, appreciates.”
Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money

To appreciate is to receive with gratitude. Gratitude helps you refocus on what you have rather than what you lack. Find something to appreciate every day, no matter how small.

Say Thank You

Jeremy Adam Smith, editor of The Greater Good, UC Berkeley says,

Americans are less likely to say “thanks” on the job than anywhere else. Why should anyone thank you for just doing your job? And why should you ever thank your coworkers for doing what they’re paid to do? …It hurts productivity and happiness…When people are thanked for their work, they are more likely to increase their helping behavior and to provide help to others. But not everyone likes to be thanked—or likes to say “thank you”—in public. They may be shy or genuinely modest. The key is to create many different kinds of opportunities for gratitude. Read more 

Having a positive inner work life is key to making progress.

Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer write in their book The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work:

On days when people have made real progress in work that matters to them, they end the day feeling more intrinsically motivated—turned by their interest in and enjoyment of the work. There’s plenty of research showing that, when people are more intrinsically motivated, they are more likely to be creative. This means that when your subordinates have pulled off a real accomplishment, they may be more open to new, challenging work that calls for creativity. In other words, they should be particularly eager to take on vexing problems and find creative solutions following days of notable progress. Read more 

Keep a Gratitude Journal

I used to write a list at the end of the day of 5 things I was grateful for that day, but it got boring. I’ve renewed my practice recently, using a process described in The Path to Wealth, by May McCarthy. The path combines universal principles of business and spirituality and includes partnering with the all-knowing power  that McCarthy calls the Chief Spiritual Officer, or “CSO.” This higher power or universal energy is within each of us.

McCarthy advocates making a daily practice of these seven steps:

  1. Read something inspirational at the start of your day
  2. Write a gratitude letter to the CSO
  3. Read it out loud with emotion
  4. Imagine experiencing your good
  5. Expect leads and follow directions
  6. Celebrate and note demonstrations
  7. End your day with gratitude and forgiveness

I’ve been writing to the CSO for about three weeks now, and I must say by the time I’ve finished writing, I feel inspired and energized, ready to take on the day with an attitude of gratitude. This practice has also helped me resolve a conflict I was experiencing, and on two occasions, my letter-writing was interrupted by a phone call from a potential client seeking out my services.

Imagine what could happen in your workplace if you and your team partnered with the CSO.

Focus on the greater good of others

“Creativity, meaning, resilience, health and even longevity can be enhanced as a surprising byproduct of contributing to the lives of others,” says Dr. Stephen Post, professor of preventative medicine and bioethics, at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and author of the Hidden Gifts of Helping and Why Good Things Happen to Good People.

UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, in collaboration with HopeLab, launched Greater Good in Action, Synthesizing hundreds of scientific studies, Greater Good in Action collects the best research-based methods for a happier, more meaningful life. Learn more.

Can you focus on the greater good and still be profitable?

In a word, yes! Certified B Corporations are an example. They are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance, B Corps create higher quality jobs and improve the quality of life in our communities. And, as the movement grows, it has become an increasingly powerful agent of change. 26 B Corps are on the Inc 5000 List, a yearly tally of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the USA, as of August 2015.

Cultivating Creativity at Work

Learn more about cultivating creativity in yourself and your team.