A thankfulness epidemic?
I was working with one organization that would start every meeting with a prayer. The prayer would thank God for everything good the organization had and ask for a productive meeting. Everybody approaches their beliefs differently. I tend to be more private with mine. So this pre-meeting ritual was a little bit uncomfortable for me at first. But after a while, I began to look forward to the prayer. It made me stop thinking about all my worries and focus on how I could become a better contributor to those around me. It made me take stock of the progress that had been made (something I too often forget to reflect on). That changed things for me. It also changed the tone of whatever meeting I was in. It shifted from a meeting to fix problems to one where we were exploring ways to build on successes. Which type of meeting would you rather be part of? Yeah, me too.
Thankfulness de-jerks a meeting
There was also this other benefit that came out of that pre-meeting thanks giving. You see, it's hard to be a bully or a jerk in a meeting after praying together with your fellow attendees. No, really. Give it a try. If you don't curb your self-focused, aggressive behavior, there will be a higher likelihood that the group will do it for you. I saw it happen. It's a pretty wonderful thing.
Find your own way to introduce the gratitude
I don't think you have to ask everyone to pray to introduce thankfulness. It could be some simple mindfulness practices. Like asking everyone to be in the moment (no checking your phone or laptop) and then taking one minute for everyone to silently meditate on what they are thankful for before diving into the agenda.
If that's too touchy-feely, simply start by reviewing all the progress made to date and recognizing everyone for their contributions toward making it happen. Even this little bit of thankfulness will make a difference.
Here is the really irresistible thing. Any little bit of thankfulness is likely to spread. After all, it's contagious. Thanking one person makes it more likely that they will thank another in turn. Heck, if we do it enough, it could cause a whole thankfulness epidemic. Imagine that spreading through the organization. Through the population.
At the very least, it would cause us to dread some of our meetings a little less. And at the very most, well, who knows? We may find ourselves helping to spread something that makes a real difference in our world. Just by being thankful.
It's infectious just to think about.