A thankful business owner

Being Thankful and Its Importance in Business

Learn how being thankful as an entrepreneur can improve work performance, protect against burnout, improve satisfaction, and so much more.

Being Thankful and Its Importance in Business




Studies have found that being thankful is very beneficial in business and in life. 

But as entrepreneurs, we sometimes fail to take the time. And that’s a mistake.

Being thankful can improve work performance, protect against burnout, improve satisfaction and happiness, and so much more.

Keep reading to find out how you can benefit from gratefulness and how to be more thankful on your entrepreneurial journey.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Oprah Winfrey

Why Entrepreneurs Overlook Being Thankful

It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs find it hard to remember to be thankful.

We spend most of our mental and emotional energy thinking about the future; trying to determine our next strategic move.

If we’re not doing that, we’re busy analyzing key performance indicators to determine how well we’re meeting objectives.

And that’s with the time we have left after everything else we do in our businesses.

But that’s the hustle we’re familiar with.

And much of that is necessary.

But what does that relentless trek without thankfulness do to us as individuals? And how can taking time to be thankful improve our entrepreneurial journey?

What Science Says About Being Thankful

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley released a 75-page white paper on, “The Science of Gratitude.”

In their paper, dozens of studies determined that gratitude and thankfulness have many benefits.

This is what they found.

The Personal Benefits of Being Thankful

Improved Physical Health

Multiple studies show that gratitude can improve our overall health and well-being.

In one study, feelings of appreciation improved heart health.
In another, it was observed that more grateful people were more likely to make healthier life choices. They also experienced better quality sleep and slept longer.

A more recent preliminary study is finding that being thankful may help prevent chronic illness.

Improved Life Satisfaction and Happiness

Studies have also found that people who took part in daily gratitude activities reported more life satisfaction and happiness compared to those who didn’t practice thankfulness daily.

Increased Self-esteem

People who participated in different variations of the “Count Your Blessings” study (more on that below) also reported improved self-esteem.

It was also observed that people who felt more gratitude for another person’s generosity, felt more valued. This in turn, also improved their self-esteem.

Increased Wisdom

Another study examined the relationship between gratitude and wisdom. The study found that those who were considered wiser expressed more gratitude than the control group. This means that there is a correlation between wisdom and gratitude.

New and Improved Relationships

In multiple studies, gratitude motivated participants to take actions that benefited others. There’s also evidence that gratitude is an important element in the formation and support of relationships.

One study found that “by helping people recognize the thoughtfulness of others, gratitude helps them “find” or identify people who are good candidates for quality future relationships; it also helps “remind” people of the goodness of their existing relationships; and it “binds” them to their partners and friends by making them feel appreciated and encouraging them to engage in behaviors that will help prolong their relationships.”

Another experiment confirmed that kindness and gratitude enhanced relationship satisfaction.

In that study, 225 participants were part of three groups. One group expressed kindness and gratitude towards the people in their lives. One group focused on themselves instead of others. The final group was the control group.

The participants who expressed gratitude or kindness reported greater satisfaction in their relationships than the other two groups.

The Benefits of Being Thankful for Our Businesses

Protection Against Burnout

Various studies have found that there is a positive association between people feeling less burnt out the more grateful they feel. While more research is needed, there is a distinct link between gratitude and burnout. It seems that the more there is of one, the less there is of the other.

Negating Negatives

Researchers also found that gratitude and thankfulness can combat negative emotions and unhappiness. A set of eight studies found that greater feelings of gratefulness and thankfulness in participants greatly reduced the feelings related to depression.

Greater Patience

A few studies observed that participants who expressed a greater level of thankfulness in general, were more patient.

In both these studies, participants were given the option to receive a small amount of money immediately or wait a week to six months in order to receive a larger sum of money.

Participants who exhibited more traits of gratitude were more likely to wait for a greater sum of money.

This indicated to the researchers that there is a correlation between gratefulness and patience.

Increased Prosocial Behavior

Many studies have been able to conclude that feelings of gratitude and thankfulness encouraged people to be kinder, more helpful, and more generous towards others.

Researchers have concluded that “Gratitude expressions increase prosocial behavior by enabling individuals to feel socially valued.”

Improved Work Performance

Team members and employees who receive expressions of gratitude from their managers significantly improve their performance and experience greater feelings of self-efficacy and social worth.

5 Ways to Be More Thankful in Your Life and Business

Count Your Blessings

Counting your blessings might be more recognizable in its more popular form—the Gratitude Journal.

The idea of a Gratitude Journal was made popular by the study, “Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life” published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2003.

The authors, Robert Emmons, an American Psychologist and professor at UC Davis, and Michael McCullough, an American psychologist and author, concluded that “a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.” 

To start your own practice of being thankful with a Gratitude Journal:

Write down five things you are thankful for in your business on a daily or weekly basis.

Tip: Additional trials for this experiment indicated that the benefits were mostly seen when the activity was performed for at least ten weeks; so plan to do this long-term to reap the benefits.

Count Three Blessings

2005 study expanded on the “Count Your Blessings” experiment.

Their results showed increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms.

The authors concluded that “positive interventions can supplement traditional interventions that relieve suffering and may someday be the practical legacy of positive psychology”. 

Being thankful for entrepreneurs who want to Count Three Blessings:

Write down 3 things that went well in your business and identify the reason why each of those three things went well.

The “Gratitude Visit”

In the same 2005 study, one experiment required that participants write and personally deliver a letter to someone whom they hadn’t thanked properly. This activity also proved to have positive benefits.

Participants wrote and delivered a letter once a week for three weeks. After the experiment was complete, they experienced much more happiness, much less depression, and much more satisfaction in their lives.

How to be thankful for entrepreneurs using the “Gratitude Visit”: 

Think of someone who helped you on your entrepreneurial journey and take a moment to write them a thank you letter. Then, deliver it to them in person.

Another option is to write and deliver a gratitude letter to an employee or partner in your business, or to a spouse, family member, or friend who has been particularly supportive on your entrepreneurial journey. 

It’s a Wonderful Life

A 2008 study that continued to experiment with variations of the “Count Your Blessings” study, found that an activity called “mental subtraction” resulted in increased positive effects versus groups who simply recounted a positive event.

How to be thankful with a wonderful life:

Recall a positive event that happened in your business and then imagine what life might be like if that event had not occurred.

A great place to start might be to imagine if you’d never become an entrepreneur in the first place. What would your life look like in that case? What would you be doing instead?

Personally, that’s enough to light a fire under me when I’m questioning my life choices. 

Buying for the Sake of Doing

And finally, in a 2016 study, researchers examined the different effects of buying material things (like the latest tech or that fancy watch you’ve been eyeing) versus buying experiences (like reservations to a nice restaurant or tickets to a concert).

The researchers found that spending money on experiences had a far greater effect on thankfulness and altruistic behavior than spending money on things.

The conclusion was that people were happier and had more satisfaction with the things they’d done versus the things they owned. 

Being thankful by Doing:

Brainstorm a few great experiences that you could create for yourself and your team and make plans to do at least one of them in 2022.

Final Thoughts on Being Thankful

There’s no question that being thankful is an important practice.

In fact, studies on gratitude have shown us that being thankful should have a prominent place among our priorities.

With the personal benefits of being thankful and the benefits to our businesses, our level of gratitude should be a key performance indicator in and of itself.

As the front-runners of our businesses, we need to prioritize the time we spend being thankful and express gratitude for our abilities, our resources, our people, our clients and customers, the services we perform, the outcomes that go in our favor, the projects we complete, and the objectives that we meet.

Doing so will bring more of those things into our businesses.

And as entrepreneurs, that’s what we are trying to accomplish in the first place.

Greta Mansfield