10 Inspiring Posts on Gratitude


Thanksgiving is upon us.  It’s the season to celebrate everything we’re grateful for — and to pledge to take fewer things for granted the rest of the year. In the interest of exercising our gratitude muscle (which does a lot of heavy lifting for our leadership) — for the second year in a row we’ve compiled 10 thoughtful and inspiring posts on gratitude from all over the web. Fittingly, as we read these celebrations of gratitude we can’t help but feel immensely grateful to be part of an ever-growing leadership community united in our commitment to learn, grow, and contribute. Thank you all for reading and sharing — and thanks to every author here for their empowering reflections on life, leadership, and giving thanks. Enjoy!

1. The New York Times: Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.  “This Thanksgiving, don’t express gratitude only when you feel it. Give thanks especially when you don’t feel it.” 

Columnist Arthur C. Brooks provides compelling evidence for why acting grateful, even when we don’t feel like it, helps us to actually manifest and experience real gratitude (even if begins as “faked”) and can bring palpable happiness to us and our loved ones. Very much worth a read.

2. Mary Jo Asmus: Gratitude is a Verb.  “Committing to a brief daily exercise that focuses on increasing your awareness of your gratitude for those you lead can help to strengthen connections with them.”

Mary Jo Asmus reminds us that gratitude is essential to our well-being, and to effective leadership, and suggests a simple daily exercise for practicing being grateful. All you’ll need is a pen and paper to get started on transforming gratitude into a verb.

3. Seth Godin: A Thanksgiving Reader. “This is a holiday about gratitude, about family and about possibility. It brings people together to not only celebrate the end of the harvest, but to look one in another in the eye and share something magical.”

Seth Godin seeks to revolutionize the way we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends with this lovely collection of reflections on gratitude — intended to be read aloud around the table. He envisions millions of families around the country reading together at the same time: “After all the travel and the cooking and the hassle, for these few minutes, perhaps we can all breathe the same air and think hard about what we’re thankful for.” To join this exercise in gratitude and togetherness, download the Thanksgiving Reader here.

Gratitude is essential to our well-being.

4. The Huffington Post: 100 Things to Be Grateful For. “We take stock of the monumental moments — that promotion at work, spending another holiday with our loved ones — but what about the tiny treasures?”

Healthy Living Editor, Lindsay Holmes, reminds us that we needn’t wait for big, important moments to take a pause to feel grateful — sometimes it’s the ordinary things that make life so extraordinary. We delighted in this list of 100 everyday moments and “tiny treasures” that are worth celebrating with gratitude. Some of our favorites from her list: “being understood”, “an awesome boss”, and of course, “Netflix.”

5. Brain Pickings: The Virtuous Cycle of Gratitude and Mutual Appreciation — The Letters of Hermann Hesse and Thomas Mann. “In a culture that makes it easier to be a critic than a celebrator, where it takes growing commitment to do the opposite, how heartening to be reminded of the ennobling gift of gratitude, of the elevating capacity of being one another’s champion . . .”

Maria Popova’s excerpts of letters of appreciation between two authors are an uplifting reminder of the power of expressing gratitude. This post is heartening to read — and it serves as a call-to-action to send our own notes of admiration to the people whose work inspires us. It can be as simple as this line, sent from Hesse to Mann: “In short, I wish to thank you for the great pleasure your book has given me.”

6. Adam Grant: My Mentor Never Gave His Last Lecture. “it seems that the most powerful way to honor Jeff’s memory is to share the wisdom that he imparted through his actions.” 

Adam Grant remembers, with gratitude, the life and contribution of his mentor. This post is a good read on three levels: it’s a touching celebration of the humility and helpfulness of an inspiring person, it is a reflection on how to embrace the virtues of great mentors in our own lives and leadership, and most importantly — it’s a reminder to say thank you to the  people who have touched our lives while we still can. In Grant’s words, “Thank your mentor before it’s too late.”

Your path to improvement is hidden in your pleasure, not your discontent.

7. Harvard Business Review: How Gratitude Can Help Your Career. “Consider the ways in which you want to improve. How do they relate to the things for which you feel grateful?”

Peter Bregman offers a counter-intuitive epiphany here: the key to getting traction on our goals, and improvement in our careers, doesn’t lie in reflecting on our shortcomings — rather, it lies in reflecting on what we’re grateful for. In fact, the best way to move the needle is to revert to old behaviors, not to add new ones. Writes Bregman, “Who are you in those moments when you are grateful? How do you show up? What are you doing? How are you behaving with yourself and others? Go back to those moments of gratitude and bring them into your present.” He concludes that, “your path to improvement is hidden in your pleasure, not your discontent” — and — “You are already the person you want to be.”  We need only to better connect with our gratitude. What a nice thought.

8. PsychCentral: 5 Gifts of Gratitude. “When we make an effort to tap into feelings of gratitude, multiple studies confirm that it pays off in better mental well-being and physical health.”

We sense intuitively that gratitude is good for us. But it helps to have the data to back it up. Dr. David Sack identifies 5 incredible benefits to gratitude and supports them with compelling research studies. One of the most impressive benefits of giving thanks cited by Sacks? “A recent study of those with asymptomatic heart failure, for example, showed that simply writing about things they were grateful for led to improvement in heart rate and in biomarkers related to their illness.” It would seem giving thanks is, quite literally, good for your heart.

9. Susan Cain: Valentine (Why There Would Be No Quiet Revolution Without My Husband). “He wanted me to sacrifice for the craft of writing “ and he, as my supportive partner, was prepared to do the same.” 

Advocate of introverts and New York Times bestselling author, Susan Cain, has deservedly enjoyed great success for her wonderful book, “Quiet.” In this thoughtful post, she gives thanks for all the support she has received from her husband; encouragement from him early in her change of career from Corporate Lawyer to Writer and Speaker helped to equip her with the confidence to pour her heart into  her writing. Reading this, we were happy for the reminder to be grateful for the people in our lives who cheer us on — and we felt inspired to thank our champions for their role in our life and leadership victories.

10. Forbes: For Engaged Employees Take This Gratitude Challenge. “When was the last time you were powerfully acknowledged in the workplace? When was the last time you powerfully acknowledged someone in the workplace?”

Gallup shows that only 13% of employees are engaged. One of the most important ways that Gallup determines employee engagement levels is through measuring how valued people feel for their contributions to their organizations. Clearly, there is a need for much more recognition. To help change the landscape at work to a more happy, engaged, and productive environment, Forbes columnist Henna Inam challenges us to a 21 day gratitude exercise. Joining is simple: Meaningfully acknowledge a co-worker once a day for 21 days straight. You can start your 21 days whenever you like and you just may transform your workplace — or , at the very least, change somebody’s day for the better.

Did we miss any “must-read” posts on gratitude? Share a link in the comments! 

Adam Grant, Forbes, giving thanks, Gratitude, harvard business review, holiday 2015, inspiration, leadership, Leadership Resources, management, motivation, Seth Godin, Susan Cain, thanksgiving,
  • Mary Jo Asmus

    Thank you for compiling this list (which I can’t wait to read) and for including my post. Happy holidays to you, Doug!

    • DouglasConant

      @maryjoasmus:disqus Thanks for your valuable contributions to the leadership conversation. Have a safe and happy holiday. Cheers.

  • hennainam

    Fantastic list Doug! I am grateful to you for including my gratitude post – – and being part of the movement for greater appreciation in the workplace!

    • DouglasConant

      @hennainam:disqus Thanks, Henna! I appreciate your challenging us to more fully integrate gratitude into our work lives — we can all do better. Have a wonderful holiday.

  • Michael Silverstein

    Happy thanksgiving, Doug. Thanks for assembling these great and inspiring lessons.

    • DouglasConant

      @disqus_C9srG0s1fp:disqus Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Thanks for reading — glad you enjoyed. Cheers.

  • barbaramcdowellwhitt

    @DouglasConant, I’m grateful to you for compiling this gratitude list with your own commentary about each listing, and @DonaldWVoss, I’m filled with gratitude since I discovered it while doing a search for “Thanksgiving gratitude.” As our family sits down for our Thanksgiving meal, one of these will be shared. To each of you, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • DouglasConant

      @barbaramcdowellwhitt:disqus Barbara — so happy to hear you’ve enjoyed these reflections on gratitude. Hope you have a very happy and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving.

  • Happy Thanksgiving, Doug! Great collection of articles to remind us of the power of gratitude and the many benefits of its practice.

    • DouglasConant

      @skipprichard:disqus Thank you, Skip! Hope you had a very happy holiday.

  • Joe McManus

    Thanks for sharing and I always look forward to these posts! Perspective is a powerful tool…Joe

    • DouglasConant

      @Joe McManus Thanks for reading — glad you enjoyed!