Gratitude is the Secret Sauce for EfficiencyJan 22, 2024
Not too long ago, my regular work day felt monotonous. I would wake up dreading to go to work another day. I felt stuck because, to me, there seemed to be no other way other than sticking with my job for the financial support generated. I did not want to move out of the area. There were many things I did not like about my job – working hours way beyond the supposedly 40-hour work week, the patient documentation, the prior authorizations I had to deal with, how the clinic was structured, etc. The more I looked for things I did not like, the more I found them.
Looking back, that was a miserable life. It was stressful. It was depressing. It was not really living. I am now grateful for that dark period of time, which lasted for quite a few years. That was an example of what to avoid doing, and it became an example of what is possible after that.
Currently, I still work at the same job, still working full-time, and spending far less hours after work. In fact, I leave work at around 5 pm with everything completed as opposed to bringing home more work at 7 pm.
This change did not happen overnight. I did not even think it was possible in the beginning. You are probably wondering what made the change for me. Sure, I now have better techniques in charting, better work flow and better team work. The prerequisite is practicing gratitude.
It is easy to be grateful when things are going well for you. The challenge is to practice gratitude when things are not going well.
Take my job for example. Recognize there is always a choice. The alternative may not be something you would even entertain to choose, but there is always a choice. Instead of thinking I have no choice but to stay at this job (which was not true, but felt almost factual), I chose another thought about it. I choose to stay in my job because it is in the area I want to stay in, because it gives me the steady financial earnings for my family, because I enjoy seeing the patients.
Once I realized it was a choice and I could change my choice, I felt better. I was grateful for that power of choice.
Practicing gratitude is simple, although not easy to do necessarily. It is regularly exercising your recognition and appreciation for situations and for people. You may think at times that there is nothing to be grateful for, given the dire situation you are in. Acknowledge your situation and be curious to explore what is there for you to show gratitude for.
The more you are grateful, the more things you can find to be grateful for. When you are grateful, you focus on what you have and you appreciate things more. Even though it may still be a situation you do not want to be in, you are less likely to argue with something you cannot control. Gratitude decreases stress, increases happiness and content.
Physically, gratitude improves your immune system and decreases illness. As you are less stressed, you are also less likely to develop aches and pains, unexplained stomach upsets or skin problems. You also have a better quality of sleep.
These all affect your performance and productivity at work. When you are healthier, you are less likely to take sick days. When you are well rested at night, you are more energized and have more focus at work.
Being grateful does not mean you are complacent. Besides appreciating what you have, being grateful also motivates you to do better. You are more focusing on your goal rather than settling for immediate satisfaction. For example, if your goal is to take great care of the patients and finish your clinic day on time, being grateful for the opportunity to do just that keeps your focus, and decreases the likelihood of you going for the immediate gratification, such as checking on social media.
With gratitude, you get better focus, less distraction, you are also practicing more self-discipline. All these lead to more efficiency. When you are happier and more content because you are grateful, you get to use better emotions to fuel your day, which also leads to better efficiency.
When you are grateful at work, you are not taking things for granted. Gratitude keeps you humble. It lets you see and appreciate other people’s strength and great qualities. Gratitude also allows you to be more receptive to criticism and continues your desire to want to perform better.
Practicing gratitude also affects others in a positive way. When your coworkers feel appreciated by you, that may increase their job satisfaction. They are more likely to volunteer or run the extra mile for you. Gratitude also establishes a special bond with the people you are grateful for. There is a better connection among coworkers and as a team working together, that promotes more efficiency and productivity.
Practicing gratitude is simple and it does not take up much time. The best way to experience the benefits of gratitude is to practice it throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning, before getting out of bed, say to yourself what you are grateful for, and mean it. While you are at work, tell yourself what you are grateful for that you have done. Tell your coworkers what you are grateful for about them. Writing simple thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, or painting from the heart of gratitude are also some great ways to practice gratitude.
It is sometimes easy to take things for granted. Practicing gratitude reminds you to focus on what you have rather than what you are lacking. When you are grateful, you are happier and more content. You get to utilize more pleasant emotions to fuel your day, which is more efficient and more sustainable than using unpleasant emotions (such as anger, frustration and stress). Gratitude promotes better discipline and motivation. Gratitude keeps you humble and more receptive to feedback. You are more motivated to do better. You are less stressed. Physically, you have a better immune system, better sleep and less likely to get sick. All these result in an increase in efficiency.
Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?