Choosing To Be Grateful Will Make You Happier and More Productive: A Global Perspective

A Thanksgiving Message


Do you want more from your life?

More happiness? Better health? Deeper relationships? Increased productivity?

What if I told you there is one thing that can help you in all of those areas?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we all know what that means—ahhh, roast turkey: that centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table. However, you are probably wondering why talk about Thanksgiving in a blog about global leadership?

Because there is more evidence of the relationship between gratitude, happiness and productivity at work.

Yes! A study by Martin Seligman and Nansook Park (Positive Pscylogy Progress, 2005) revealed that a five-minute a day gratitude session can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. That is the same impact as doubling your income!



Examining the economies of the world, there is a statistically significant positive relationship between satisfaction at work and income per capita of countries according to a Gallup opinion poll (IDB, 2008).

However, at the personal level, there is evidence that the relationship goes from gratitude to productivity, and not all the way around.  Shawn Achor, Harvard Professor and author of the book “The happiness advantage”, reveals that happy people are 31% more productive than their counterparts.

How is this possible?

In his TedTalk video “The happy secret to better work”, Achor says conventional wisdoms holds that if we work hard we will be more successful, and if we are more successful, then we will be happy. If we can just find that great job, win that next promotion, lose those five pounds, happiness will follow. But recent discoveries in the field of positive psychology have shown that this formula is actually backward: Happiness fuels success, not the other way around.

When we are positive and express gratitude, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work. According to Achor, only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ; 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat.

A study by Emmons and McCullough (Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2003) examined the effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal positive benefits. This means that focusing on “counting one’s blessings”, rather than on complaints or on neutral life events, leads to enhanced psychological and physical functioning, because dopamine, which flows into your system when you are positive, turns on all of the learning centers in your brain allowing it to work more optimistically and successfully.

So do you dare to be more grateful in your workplace?

I do!

Following the advice of Charles Dickens “reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some” and with one week away from the end of my internship period with the Meridian International Center (MIC), I want to take advantage of this opportunity to share how incredibly thankful I feel for having the chance to be part of the MIC, an organization working to bring people together from different backgrounds and ethnicities to promote global leadership.

Recent events in France, Lebanon, and Nigeria do nothing more than to highlight the importance of Meridian’s vision of achieving “a more secure and prosperous world that is characterized by mutual understanding, innovation, economic growth, and inclusion.”  For example, in 1961 there were only 36 democracies in the world, today there are nearly 120. Deaths from HIV/AIDs related causes decreased by 40% from 2005 to 20015. Progress has been made, but much remains to be done.

It has been a truly memorable experience. I have enjoyed myself immensely and built valuable relationships, which I hope will continue in the years to come. This is not a goodbye, only “hasta luego” or “see you later”.


My time here has helped me better prepare to effectively meet the challenges of a complex world and assist me on my journey of becoming a global leader and a citizen of the world. I count myself blessed to have had a role in the Meridian’s mission!

This Thanksgiving I urged you to express gratitude, and combat the negative impulses that are deterring you from your bliss.