I have two new favorite words: shoy and bragitude.

Coined by clinical psychologist Catherine Chambliss and her team, shoy is short for shared joy. It is the practice of showing interest when someone else relates a success story with your body language, voice, and follow-up questions.

Bragitude is the practice of expressing gratitude when someone else’s support or success contributes to our own. It’s telling another person about our win and then thanking them for how they helped.

The research around the importance of sharing celebration and appreciation is clear:

Relationship researcher John Gottman found that the most significant factor predicting a married couple’s likelihood of divorce was the ratio of positive to negative comments the partners made to each other. He found that the optimal ratio was five positive comments for every negative one.

Similarly, researchers found that the highest-performing leadership teams at a company gave 5.6 positive comments for each negative one, and the lowest-performing teams gave 0.36 positive comments to each negative one.[1]

And yet, the cultural norm in so many of our organizations is to dive right into the work and neglect taking time to connect, give thanks, and celebrate. But when we treat celebration and gratitude as if they were wastes of time, we drain our energy and limit our capacity.

So here are five ideas for integrating more shoy and bragitude in your life:

  1. Begin meetings or family dinners with everyone sharing one thing that’s bringing them joy or with the question What’s new and good?
  2. End meetings with everyone sharing one thing they are taking away or are grateful for from the meeting.
  3. When someone does something that you appreciate, thank them and be as specific as possible about why you’re grateful.
  4. When others compliment you, catch yourself if you start batting away their kind words, and simply, say thank you.
  5. Track how many positive comments you give in comparison to negative ones. And experiment with intentionally increasing the positive one. Of course, be mindful not to stockpile grievances. This isn’t an invitation to avoid giving challenging feedback but rather an invite to seize the opportunity to give thanks and praise.

I’ll close with some words from Brené Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart.

She writes, “In the midst of joy, there’s often a quiver, a shudder of vulnerability. Rather than using that as a warning sign to practice imagining the worst-case scenario, the people who lean into joy use the quiver as a reminder to practice gratitude…

In our research, we found that everyone who showed a deep capacity for joy had one thing in common: They practiced gratitude.”


[1] Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman. The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism

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