Gratitude: How to be a Happy Coder

by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA

Growing up, we learn to be grateful for any gift that someone gives us; no matter what it is. Most children have at some point had to say “thank you” for funny-colored sweaters from grandmothers, unusual gifts from Uncles and gifts we believe that we outgrew years before from neighbors or other relatives. We are taught by our parents to be grateful that someone took the time to think about us enough to give us a gift.

By the time we get into the work world, most of us have accepted this counsel. We understand how it works and can roll with the most disappointing, odd or potentially inappropriate gift that comes our way. I wonder, however, whether there is a larger wisdom hiding in the advice we received from our parents about receiving gifts?

In observing people across different organizations over more than three decades of work, I believe that there IS a larger wisdom tucked into these gift-giving norms.

Throughout the year, as Coders we have multiple opportunities to receive things at work: unexpected time off, annual raises, bonuses, parties as well as training opportunities, and the chance to expand our expertise and Coding skills. How often do we accept these things with a grateful heart?

Do we participate in the work-sponsored party with a positive attitude, grateful that there is food, time away from our work, and a lighter mood? Or do we grouse that we wouldn’t have ordered from that caterer, and “if management was going to spend $10 on a gift this dumb, I wish they’d just give me a $10 bill?”  Do we graciously welcome the 1-hour early dismissal on the day before a holiday or are we bitter that management didn’t give us a half day because what can you do with only an hour?

An ungrateful perspective is a guarantee that we will have even MORE to complain about in the future. But when we welcome things that come our way with openness and gratitude, there’s a shift that takes place in our day-to-day lives.

  • This does not mean that we need to be unnaturally giddy for a $50 bonus when we were really hoping for $500. It does mean that we accept that $50 and feel real gratitude for it.
  • It does not mean that we have to rave over the caterer’s offerings at the company party if we don’t like their food. It does mean that we see the larger picture, and appreciate the time, attention and resources that people put into making some special time for everyone at work.


I have found that when I shift away from the negative perspective and into one of gratitude – no matter what I expected or wanted – I end up with more opportunities to be grateful.

In previous articles and in my talks I often use the example of a new car. When we decide to buy a new car, especially if it is markedly different from the one we currently drive, we begin to see the car everywhere – in rush hour traffic, at the grocery store, and parked next to us at work. It can seem as though a troll under a bridge opened a secret cave and sent a bunch of these cars out to stalk us. There is, of course, no troll in a cave with a secret stash of cars. Our perspective has changed, and what was once in the background, unnoticed by us, is now in our conscious awareness, and so we NOTICE this vehicle everywhere.

This same principle works when we put our attention on the positive things at work. The nice gestures, kind offerings and good times that are all around us become more obvious to us – just like that new car model. We begin to NOTICE when we get a break; pay attention to the kindness of a colleague or manager; we begin to see that there is a lot to appreciate at work, every day. On the flip side, if we continue to see only the negative, we will see only the misery that is around us.

And a funny thing seems to happen to these two groups of people.

  • The ones who express gratitude, see the positive in most circumstances, and appreciate the people around them seem to find that more doors of opportunity open for them. They are selected for special projects that give them higher visibility; they build up their professional network and have more chances to compete for bigger roles, better salaries and more.
  • Those who are chronically miserable, complaining about everyone and everything find that more doors are closed than open for them. They are focused on what’s WRONG, and so what’s wrong is all they see.


Like the gift that is not what we expect, the “gifts” that come our way at work are also an opportunity to practice receiving with gratitude; and the way we receive sets the tone for our future at work and in life.

We get to decide which “new car model” we want to see in the coming year at work. If we’d like a good experience – one with appreciation, opportunity and expansion; we can set the tone starting today – by appreciating the smallest gestures and seeing them as something positive. We can see the good in every interaction that comes across our desks, and assume that anyone we interact with is working in harmony with us. And like that new car model that we keep seeing once we decide to buy the car, the more we make the positive assumptions, and see the underlying good in the actions of others; the more positive opportunities show up for us.

ICD-10-CM/PCS Guidelines
Learn how to correctly apply ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS guidelines to ensure accurate and complete coding:

ICD-10-CM: Selected Guidelines for Coding and Reporting
ICD-10-PCS Guidelines: A Case Study Approach

About the Author

Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
Rebecca Harmon returned to HIM practice in a leadership role after spending many years as an HIM educator. Tapping her broad history of diverse healthcare experience that began with a tour of duty in the US Navy, Rebecca writes regularly and speaks on education, workforce issues, management and life. An energetic and engaging speaker, Ms. Harmon enjoys sharing her unique perspective with student, faculty, professional and community groups.

33 thoughts on “Gratitude: How to be a Happy Coder

  1. Randi Mahoney - January 16, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks for that inspiring article! I appreciate the reminder to be grateful.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:10 am

      Thanks for reading my blog! 🙂

  2. Cheryl Bousquet, CCS - January 16, 2019 at 1:03 pm

    Such a well written article and every point you make on gratitude and acceptance is so true. We all see this every day. Thank you for reminding us to watch for positive and watch out for the not so much positive. Like the old cartoon with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other…we have to be careful which ear we turned to listen to. I do enjoy your writing.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 21, 2019 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words!!

  3. Mirta Brady - January 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you, really enjoy it. Always awesome to aim to see the positive, but also have an empathtic portion as we look to others that may not see the positive right awat.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:11 am

      Thanks so much! 🙂

  4. Stacy Yauger - January 16, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Thank you for your kind words. It is nice to stop an appreciate what we have around us in the work world. Hopefully like you said – if you own your attitude and are positive, new doors will open. I recently had to switch jobs from a toxic environment to a more fulfilling and positive environment. I appreciate my new job and surroundings knowing there are terrible places and environments to work in.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:12 am

      I’ve seen the doors open – for myself and for others. It works! Thanks for reading!

  5. Nancy Margan - January 16, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Love the article

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:13 am


      Thank you!

  6. Jcw - January 16, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    Very nice article. We need to be reminded about gratitude. Thanks for putting these thoughts to paper.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:13 am

      You’re welcome – thanks for reading!!

  7. Kimberlee Fultz - January 16, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    I love this article. I am going to print this article out an take to church and share in my Sunday school class. God is going to Bless you and thank you for sharing. I hope this article blesses someone else like it blessed me

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:15 am

      Thank you 🙂

  8. Jean - January 16, 2019 at 2:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing the perspective of gratitude!

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:15 am

      My pleasure! Thanks for reading 🙂

  9. Gloryanne Bryant - January 16, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Good article for all coding professionals to read!

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:16 am


  10. Irene Silva - January 16, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    My focus word for 2019 is “Gratitude”! What a great article that we can apply in all aspects of our lives.

    Thank you!

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:17 am

      A good word to carry with you throughout the year! Thanks for reading.

  11. Vicki Still - January 16, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Words of wisdom for work and in every aspect of life.

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:17 am

      Thank you 🙂

  12. JOY KERSCHKE - January 16, 2019 at 10:28 pm


    You put words to my thoughts!!

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:18 am

      Happy to share – thanks for reading 🙂

  13. Buffy Rowe - January 17, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you…I really needed the gentle reminder this morning!

    • Rebecca Harmon - January 18, 2019 at 2:18 am

      Glad it was here for you (& gentle) 🙂 thanks for reading!

  14. VG - January 22, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    I enjoyed this great article and yet so true! Thank you so much for the reminder am just so grateful at work!

  15. Dorothy - January 30, 2019 at 12:39 am

    I do believe you put everything in perspective. Great article! I have always been a greatful person and even more as I age. I have been very blessed, not with materialistic items, but with love, frtiends, jobs, knowledge, etc..
    thank you for sharing

  16. Shante Wright - January 1, 2020 at 12:02 am

    Love this!

  17. A. Morton - January 3, 2020 at 11:14 am

    I enjoyed your article because sometimes we forget and just need a litter reminder. Thanks!

  18. crw - January 3, 2020 at 12:01 pm

    Very nice article to read first thing in the morning. Thank you for the reminder.

  19. Jennifer Wilson - January 3, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Great article!

  20. Jeannine - January 3, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Great article! I shared with all my coders and no-coders.