There are many articles in the Internet that discuss the benefits of gratitude; some are quite detailed, which I most likely have read but just didn’t stick to me. That is until I read an article somewhere I wasn’t expecting it—in an investment book.
Through a conversation between dad and daughter, the book “Invested” introduced Wahei Takeda, a famous Japanese value investor. I haven’t found graphs on the performance of his investments (the Japanese do have a high regard for privacy), but he must be that good if he is dubbed as the “Warren Buffett of Japan”.
Takeda says that his secret to success is Maro—thankfulness. As an investor, he is known to institutionalize thankfulness in the companies he invests in. He does this by asking the CEO to implement it as a policy. Thankfulness is integrated to the company culture as employees get frequent reminders to be thankful; gratitude to one another becomes part of their meetings.
Thanking someone involves recognizing the person’s strengths and the value they bring to the table. But let us also not forget that humans are faulty by nature. In essence, gratitude entails acknowledging the person’s assets, despite their faults, or sometimes even because of those faults. In Ms. Universe 2018 Catriona Gray’s own words “… to see situations with a silver lining.” We can just swap “people” for “situations”. If I were to quote her full answer for that Q&A portion, she actually mentioned “grateful” twice.
Imagine working in an environment with that kind of culture.
When done frequently, it only then becomes natural that employees feel valued by the company. Workers then become more productive as they feel valued for their work. Win-win.
Once the culture is established, and as long as the company’s business processes continue to provide value to its customers, the value of the company’s shares should grow. Takeda can then sell his shares at higher prices at some future date. Reluctance of the CEO to comply will result in Takeda prematurely selling his shares. Maro then is not simply his practice; it’s what sets him apart.
So perhaps being grateful makes some people a bit richer than others.
And when we couple that with the other benefits of gratitude such as health improvements, boosts in self-esteem, more satisfying relationships, and other enhancements in our general well-being, it
becomes pretty illogical to not try it for ourselves.
Thanking others, or even ourselves, works best in small but mindful gestures. And when we want to change for the better, there is kaizen (改善).
改 – change, reformation
善 – virtuous, goodness
In his book, “The Spirit of Kaizen”, Dr. Robert Maurer shows the power of supposedly small changes, but when done consistently and incrementally, induces great positive change in individuals, even in company departments. Instead of innovating, which he defined as making great, radical, and swift changes, Dr. Maurer recommends that we take small doable steps toward our desired change.
In the book, when clients come to him in need of some change in their lives, Dr. Maurer usually makes his clients ask themselves at least two questions, which he calls kaizen questions, every day:
1) What good thing did I do today?
2) What good thing happened to me today?
The first question aims to elicit a reason for us to thank ourselves, while the second aims to bring out a reason to thank others. Feel free to edit the questions so they become more meaningful to you.
The rule is to not think too hard to answer the questions. We don’t need to come up with answers right away, but we do have to keep asking.
Our brains are wired to accept and process things through repetition. As we keep on asking ourselves, our brains will do work in the background. At some time (perhaps in weeks or months, there’s no hurry), we will just naturally come up with answers on why to be thankful. That’s when the other benefits start to sink in.
Inspired by Simon Sinek’s golden circle, this article is written to start with why, and end with how. Answering what is up to you.
And thanks for reading this by the way. 😛
- Town, Danielle (2018). Invested: How Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger Taught Me to Master My Mind, My Emotions, and My Money (with a Little Help from My Dad). New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
- Maurer, Robert; Hirschman, Leigh Ann (2012). The Spirit of Kaizen: Creating Lasting Excellence One Small Step at a Time. United States of America: McGraw-Hill Education.
- Morin, Amy (2014, November 23). 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude That Will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year-Round. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/
- [risenchatd] (2018, December 20). Miss Universe 2018 – Catriona Gray Philippines Highlights [HD]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSHw2XSpIR4