Why Practicing Gratitude Can Help a New Solopreneur

Gratitude is putting yourself in a state of thankfulness. If you’re starting out as a solopreneur, you may find it challenging. After all, the bills may be piling up faster than the income is coming in. But I’m reminded of an Irving Berlin lyric, “Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks – I’ve got the sun in the mornin’ and the moon at night.”, which basically says you still have things to be happy about.

As a solopreneur, you can’t afford not to have gratitude

When I was first starting out as a solopreneur, I had unexpected expenses (worn out tires, parking tickets, etc.) that were the price of moving to a brand new metropolitan area. I was stressed and had plenty to grumble about. But guess what one benefit of gratitude is?

Benefit #1: There’s a correlation between gratitude and less stress

Psychologists like Dr. Robert Emmons (author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier)
and Michael McCollough have done studies1 and found that compared to people who journaled daily about all their experiences (good or bad) and people who journaled daily only about unpleasant experiences, people who journaled daily about things they were thankful had lower levels of depression and stress.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there.

Benefit #2: It turns out practicing gratitude also gives your creativity a boost

Those same psychologists also found a correlation between people who practice gratitude and higher levels of creativity. Coming up with creative solutions is one of the necessary skill sets of a successful solopreneur. Think about how much your income could change if you could see the big picture to a problem and come up with a creative solution for it.

Benefit #3: There’s a correlation between gratitude and stronger social connections

If you’re a solopreneur, having a network of strong social ties is important, because it makes you better able to weather the emotional ups and downs of business. Customers come, customers go. Your revenue is up, and then it’s down. It’s nice to be able to have people to share your troubles and your joys with. It helps you weather the storm and stay happier all around.

Of course, having gratitude is easier said than done.

How do you learn to have gratitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances?

I’m reminded of a story about what Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe said at the Battle of the Bulge during World War II: "Men, we are surrounded by the enemy, We have the greatest opportunity ever presented to any army. We can attack in any direction.".

I’ve struggled to have this perspective during difficult times. I’ve found it really comes down to just trying to practice gratitude (when things are not as difficult) over and over, so that during the tough times, your "gratitude habit" kicks in.

So to help us all out (because I can still use some practice at this), I’m posting some of my favorite gratitude quotes…

True forgiveness is when you can say, "Thank you for that experience.
― Oprah Winfrey

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.
― Meister Eckhart

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.
― Thornton Wilder

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
― John F. Kennedy

And of course, finally I should end with "things I’m thankful for today…"

  1. I have enough to eat
  2. I have a place to live
  3. I get to write a blog post
  4. I have supportive friends and family relationships

What are some things you are thankful for?

Sources:
  1. How Gratitude Can Change Your Life. Marelisa Fabrega. <http://www.thechangeblog.com/gratitude/> Accessed 11/19/12.
  2. Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier . Robert Emmons. Mariner Books; November 6, 2008.
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