4 Ways to Practice Gratitude Using the FISH! Philosophy

Published On: August 23, 2023Categories: Blog

Over the past few years, more and more people and organizations have had their eyes opened to the extreme power of simple gratitude. No longer just the domain of pre-Thanksgiving Dinner share sessions, scientific research has been showing that those of us who intentionally make an effort to think about what we’re thankful for and express our gratitude to those around us are generally happier, healthier, and live more fulfilling lives.

However, the key word in that last paragraph is intentional. Our brains are wired like thermostats, and have a tendency to emotionally regulate themselves back to a default state in the face of extreme changes. When an emotion is experienced frequently, this trait (called “hedonic adaptation”) causes that emotion to be felt less strongly, which can make it difficult to be fully aware of when something truly positive is happening in our lives.

That means that gratitude doesn’t always come easily or naturally; we have to work at it and be mindful of it in order to express it properly. But when we are able to do so, the improvement in our lives can be immeasurable. Fortunately, the four pillars of the FISH! Philosophy can help make it easier to recognize and express gratitude, and here’s how you can use them to help change your life for the better:

Be There: Let the gratitude sit with you

We often talk about how Be There is a skill we direct towards others, and how important it is to practice being emotionally available for our colleagues, friends, and family. By doing so, we build the type of community and interpersonal relationships that lift all ships, as when we show up for others, they’re more likely to show up for us in return.

However, that’s not the only way to Be There. We can also practice Being There for ourselves–holding space for our own emotionals and showing ourselves grace and compassion during both difficult and enlightening experiences. This is how we process the bad and learn to hold onto the good–when we’re feeling gratitude, we internalize it by sitting with that feeling for longer than feels normal. We’re not talking hours, but even 30-60 seconds of relaxed contemplation and mindfulness of that positive experience goes a long way towards wiring our brains in a way that makes expressing gratitude even more natural in the future.

Play: Practice new perspectives to gain more gratitude

It’s never easy to practice viewing life from someone else’s perspective. When we’re young, we’re often hard-headed and believe we have all the answers without questioning ourselves. As we age, we use our experience and hard-earned wisdom to deflect from having to accept new information or ideas. But even if we return to our own beliefs, it’s critical to always be at least attempting to see things from the point of view of others.

This is the foundation behind the FISH! Philosophy pillar of Play: we acknowledge the importance of creating space to entertain novel concepts, new ideas, and differing perspectives without judgment or closed-minded boundaries so that we can move forward with the best course of action.

So how does this tie back into gratitude? Well, practicing Play is not only good for gaining new ideas, it’s also a crucial method of gaining insight into our own lives. When we adopt someone else’s perspective, we can more thoroughly reflect on our own–we can see what motivations are pushing us forward, what sadness and distress are holding us back, and feel gratitude towards the multiplicity of experiences and emotions that make up our personality and innate humanity.

Make Their Day: Gratitude is a muscle that must be exercised

We often think of gratitude as an action that simply… happens. Someone does something nice, we thank them, the world keeps on turning. But true gratitude isn’t just a rote expression of thanks; it’s an emotional skill that requires practice and persistence to ingrain into ourselves. Gratitude means we take the time to recognize why people did something worthy of thanks, then take the time to turn that recognition outward and behave in a way that ensures they understand that.

This expression could be as simple as a statement of thanks–after all, when someone passes you the stapler, we don’t need to devote our lives to their well-being. But true gratitude is often much deeper. When someone consistently behaves in a way we appreciate, real gratitude is often expressed by mirroring or matching that behavior–we go out of our way to help them and Make Their Day.

When we practice Making Their Day towards people we already appreciate, it becomes easier and more routine. And when that gratitude becomes routine, we can more easily express gratitude not just towards those that we already like, but towards those we want to become closer with.

Choose Your Attitude: Sincerity turns gratitude into attitude

When it comes to gratitude, it’s all about sincerity. For those around us, that’s obvious–we can all tell when someone is saying thanks and they don’t really mean it! But most importantly, expressing truly sincere feelings of gratitude is how we build gratitude into a meaningful and healthy routine.

It’s easy to say “fake it til you make it,” and to be fair, there is a kernel of truth to that–oftentimes, our first attempts at practicing something new will feel awkward or unnatural, and it’s easy to confuse that for insincerity. But the important part is that even during those odd-feeling first attempts, we have to want to be showing that gratitude. If we’re stressing ourselves out trying to feel “the right thing” in harmful situations rather than protecting ourselves, that gratitude is neither sincere nor healthy.

So to practice gratitude sincerely, we have to choose an attitude of self-respect–we need to be able to identify what we’re feeling honestly, to act in our own long-term best interests, and live the life we want to be living. Once we have that as a foundation, the gratitude that flows forth will naturally only be the sincerest, leading to even stronger and more self-affirming relationships.

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • Name one thing you’re grateful for today. Next, name one thing someone else did for you that you feel grateful for. Are they the same thing? If not, which was harder?
  • How frequently do you practice taking on the perspectives of others? Does it influence your own thinking, or reaffirm your own beliefs?
  • How do you express gratitude in the workplace? Does it feel sincere? If not, how can we show gratitude in a way that aligns with our true feelings?

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and avoid the symptoms of impending burnout. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or info@charthouse.com to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

FISH! Executive Briefing

You have probably heard about the Culture Shift in the news. Organizations are struggling to find talent, employee morale is low, retention is a common goal and customers are dissatisfied with buying experiences.

These are all symptoms of an underlying challenge leadership is faced with every day, regardless of the industry. You can look for temporary relief or an overall, long-term cure.

Join us for a 60-minute webinar on the world-famous, award-winning FISH! practices.

Click Here for More FISH! Executive Briefing Information


Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or info@charthouse.com to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

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