Happy to Have a Toaster

Gratitude Creates Joy – How to Use it at Work.

This morning, I was grateful for my toaster. Yes, I own a toaster and that made me happy.

Gratitude helps us be happier at work. In this post I share the story about the toaster and 3 ways I’m currently using gratitude to help me at work.

So why grateful for a toaster?

Here’s the story…. a friend of mine has an out-of-town job for a couple of weeks and the client provided the accommodation.  And, you guessed it, the accommodation wasn’t what he was expecting.  The shipping container would be a great place to stay at the height of summer but outside showers and long drops lose their appeal when its darker and colder.

We shared some humour about his discomfort.  Then I got this message:

“God Katrina, there is no toaster”.

There was no humour in that statement, it was kind of the last straw.

A toaster is something small that I totally take for granted.  Today, I fully appreciated the ease of making toast, and this appreciation made me happier.

There is growing science about how gratitude creates happier lives and workplaces.  For example, it’s impossible to hold some negative emotions (such as jealousy and depression) at the same time as being grateful.  We can switch between these feelings but can’t hold both at once.  So, which one do you choose?

Three Ways I Currently Use Gratitude

1.  To Calm Anxiety by Counting My Blessings

Have you ever had work stress affect your ability to sleep?  Several years ago, I was in a CEO role and the business was under stress.  I started waking up at 2am with a whirlpool of anxiety.  At that time of the night, it is easy to catastrophise and hard to have perspective.

Counting my blessings shifted my perspective and helped me get back to sleep.  The first few blessings that came to mind were normally simple physical things such as: I’m warm, I’m dry, and I’m safe.  After that, it was interesting to see the variety of things that would arise, sometimes quite unexpected things, like a friend that I hadn’t seen for months.  I would gently find something else to be grateful for, and another, and another, before drifting off to sleep.

This is not to say we should ignore anxiety, but getting overwhelmed by anxiety doesn’t help. Gratitude can help stop the overwhelm and help resource ourselves, so that we can deal with the challenges.  And let’s face it, 2am is not the time to be thinking about work dilemmas.

2.  Appreciation for “Just Doing Your Job”

Years ago, I volunteered in the local hospice shop, and every time (yes every time) I turned up, the shop manager would thank me for being there.  This gratitude was such a strong contrast to my experience in paid employment.   

Currently when I get good service, I thank the person for helping me with clear and specific feedback.  Yes, I know “they are just doing their job”, and it would be great if we were all appreciated for the work we do. Their joy and my appreciation makes me feel good.

3.     To Focus on What is Right, (rather than what is wrong)

Out of 10 how would you rate your life right now? 

Let’s say 7 out of 10.  As humans we are programmed to focus on the 3 out of 10 that could be improved, paying little attention to the 7 out of 10 that is right.  Even if you would give your life 4 out of 10, appreciating the things that are right can help our ability to face the challenges.

I bet you can think of three things right now that you’re grateful for, small or big.

And the Friend without a Toaster…..

And how is the friend without the toaster? Well, he did OK using the frying pan, not great, but OK. He will appreciate his indoor plumbing when he gets home.

And of course I sent him the photo above of me easily making toast…..

Happy to have a toaster.