We are living in difficult times and no one can ignore the suffering prevalent among those around us including family members, colleagues, friends, the community, and even ourselves. The unannounced entrance of COVID has and continues to threaten livelihoods, compromise health, increase domestic violence, keep children out of school and push us to make significant changes that in turn demand significant adjustments.
Business leaders are navigating unchartered waters and must make decisions that straddle the delicate balance of keeping operations afloat with significantly fewer resources in a harsh economic environment against preserving jobs and employee livelihoods. Surrounded by so much bleakness, it can be argued that there is little to be grateful for as the feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear are overwhelming. Clearly, the uncertainty and the looming changes are unsettling.
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There is a lot of good advice and suggestions on how to persevere through this time. It has been heart-warming to see professionals from varied disciplines come together in supportive ways for one another. Many have benefited from insights shared on how to balance home and work life, health and financial advice, and much more.
With all the real changes we are facing, there is one solution that is often ignored for its simplicity, but its effect and impact is undisputed. It lies in the social norm we do not intentionally recognise, gratitude. This is the presence of thankfulness, expressing appreciation and/or recognising the good.
Psychological research has shown the power of intentionally affirming the goodness around us to cultivate positive emotions like hope, joy, awe, peace, and overall, well-being. Intentionally noticing, observing, and awareness of the good things moment by moment goes a long way in adapting and adjusting to our new normal of social distancing, remote working, virtual engagements, sanitising, distance learning, and others. Research has shown the powerful effects of expressing gratitude in that it reduces stress and negative emotions like worry and helps us look to the future with hope and a greater ability to embrace the new reality.
My encouragement to you today is to try this simple act of intentionally noticing the good around you. See the gifts and blessings around you, from the seemingly small and insignificant ones to the bigger more noticeable ones. Try the simple exercise or recording what you are grateful every day; waking up, breathing, a smile, a helpful shop attendant, a call from a friend, hot water, a job, a compliment…whatever it is. Even if it seems insignificant, write it down and keep doing so until it becomes a habit and your mind is trained to see the good in each moment and situation.
Some questions to ask yourself as you write may include:
- What am I grateful for today and why?
- What am I having difficulty expressing gratitude about and why?
- What difficult experience am I grateful for and why?
- What actions can I take today to express gratitude?
As you practice, notice the difference this makes to your thoughts and how you feel. Try it out and let us know if you experience any change.
Written By Nyawera Kibuka