Say Thank You Despite the Times – Being ‘Grateful’

Are you concerned about the rising costs?

Is the environment and climate change a worry for you?

Do you think the country/world is going to ruin?

It’s easy to get in a downward spiral about the state of things – rising costs, healthcare waiting lists, annoying politicians, let alone war and conflict.

Media and news focus on this, it’s at our finger tips 24/7.

And what you focus on influences your mood, attitude and resilience.

It is easy to say Thank You during good times. More difficult to do in tough times. And it is possible to find things to be thankful for despite the stressful and uncertain situations.

Benefits of Being Grateful

The best time to start a gratitude practice is now as it improves your wellbeing. Multiple research sources document the benefits of being grateful, or living with the perspective of gratitude, across five key areas¹:

1. Emotional wellbeing – happier, less anxiety and depression, bounce back from stress

2. Physical health – better sleep, fewer aches and pains, less pain, more exercise

3. Personality – more optimism, self-esteem, spirituality

4. Social interactions – more friends, better marriages, deeper relationships

5. Career enhancements – greater networking, better teamwork, less absenteeism, greater employee and client loyalty

These benefits are great at any time in our lives and even more important during times of stress.

It’s such an important thing for me that it’s the last chapter in my book, Soft Skills HARD RESULTS.

My Origins with Being Grateful

I was a regular watcher of the Oprah Winfrey Show back in the 1990s–2000s. At that time, she was broadcasting her one-hour daytime talk show on national TV, well before she had her own network. In 1997 an episode of Oprah featured Sarah Ban Breathnach talking about her new book, Simple Abundance: a Day Book of Comfort and Joy.

I loved the show, so I bought the book and then its corresponding journal (which I dug out while writing my book to figure out the date I started my gratitude practice). I started the practice of capturing my daily gratitudes in that journal and have continued doing so on and off, but mostly on, for 25 years. It became a nightly practice and continues that way. It’s a relaxing and peaceful way to end my day and go to bed to fall asleep

What Am I Grateful for? The Positives

Let me state the obvious – I am not grateful for the suffering, hurt, grief, fear and loss that so many people are suffering from at the moment. I feel for those globally who are enduring hardships of every type.

And knowing light can co-exist alongside dark, helps us.

I’m reminded of some gratitudes I saw, felt and heard in 2020, with the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic:

Consciousness about waste and need. People are turning to fresh ingredients where they can and are not wasting food, heck even heard of grilled celery being eaten so it doesn’t go to waste. I know I’m spending more time cooking new and nutritious meals.

● For some, being forced to slow down, to be less busy, less rushing around, less hurried-sickness (something many of my executive clients suffer from normally).

● People are seeing value in occupations they might not have noticed before, like carers, grocery workers, delivery people, telecom engineers, manufacturing and obviously healthcare providers (although I think these people have been valued previously and certainly differently than a shop attendant).

Generosity – offering to shop for the vulnerable, free exercises classes on-line, volunteering in their communities, reaching out to others, people donating money and rooms for sick or healthcare workers, free food and parking to healthcare workers.

Creativity is flourishing – companies making ventilators rather than cars, new hospitals built in a week which would have taken years previously, face-to-face things now being done virtually.

Top Tips for Being Grateful

The evidence is clear that being thankful and seeing our lives in a more positive light, regardless of everything going on, is better for us.

● Make it a daily habit or ritual. I do it at bedtime, others share their gratitudes around the kitchen table as a family.

● Physically write the gratitudes down in a journal or notepad – this engages your eyes, your hand (kinaesthetic movement), and your brain, making the gratitude more tangible as it’s a multisensory exercise. If you only ‘think’ about them they are just more fleeting thoughts.

● Be specific – the detail is what makes the experience rich and creates the good feeling.

● Try it for 30 days and notice the changes.

● If you’re grateful for an achievement – celebrate it and ask yourself what you did to make that happen. This helps us not only celebrate the DOING (what we did) but also the BEING (who we were while doing).

Gratitude at Work

This isn’t just a personal exercise. It can be done at work with colleagues or your team.
When colleagues share things they appreciate about each other it creates psychological safety and makes us feel better as it releases dopamine.

We often do this at the end of Leadership training programmes amongst small groups – Share one thing about each colleague that you’ve appreciate during the training. Suggest they think of sharing behaviours the person exhibited, qualities or characteristics you’ve appreciated or specific things they did or said.

NEVER EVER has anyone not been able to come up with something nice to say.

Everyone, the giver and receive, report feeling so good after the exercise.

Imagine if your team members felt good more often at work. What could that positivity and mutual admiration create?

The Evolution

Over time it does evolve and become easier. When I first started I had to reflect on the day to find things for which to be happy. Sometimes all I could think of was the weather or a friend. Over time it became easier. Now as I go about my day I notice things for which I’m grateful and actually feel and think that in the moment. When the bus is there ready to take me on my journey immediately, I do have a quick realization of being grateful I didn’t have to wait and can be on my way quickly. It can change the way you look at the world.

It can also change how you can interact with the world. When I’m grateful for something involving another person I’ll offer express that gratitude to them specifically and also do it in a tone and manner that is truly reflective of my thanks, not just a passing “thank you.”

You can download a free blank template for my daily Gratitude Practice here.

Thank You Reflection

Thank you for reading this. I invite you to reflect and share:

What are you grateful for today?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you’re thankful for – contact me using the button below to let me know one gratitude you have for today or something about another person for which you are grateful 😉


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Photo by Marcus Wöckel