In a year when everything seemingly has gone to H-E-double hockey sticks – it is easy to get bogged down in the “woe is me” mentality. Our lives have been terribly disrupted, a lot of activities that used to bring us joy we can no longer do, and we are seeing great disruptions and disagreements everywhere we look. It is a time of turmoil and it would be easy to crawl into our sweatpants and retreat from the world in our little bubble of sadness. BUT what kind of story would that be? No movie worth watching ends that way – that is not the life we are meant to live!

So that is not what we are going to do. Repeat – that is NOT AT ALL what we are going to do!  Right now, right this very minute – we are going to be thankful. We are going to count our blessings, no matter how limited we think they are right now.

A few years ago, at the LTEN Annual Conference, Shawn Achor the noted speaker and author of Big Potential and The Happiness Advantage spoke to the audience about pursuing happiness and fulfillment. He spent time talking about an exercise that he does every morning. To condense his speech down into just a few nuggets – recognizing things/people you are thankful for and sharing your gratitude with them helps us have a more positive outlook on life and helps them feel appreciated. The more we look for the joy in life – the more joyous we will be.  The more we lift others up – the more we will be lifted.

An Exercise In Thankfulness

So, here is the exercise we are going to do – and we don’t even have to leave our chairs/couches/beds (no judgments here). It is simple, easy, and quick and reaps great reward – so what have you got to lose? Seriously, this will take less than 5 minutes and it is guaranteed to put a spring in your step for the rest of the day.

  • First step – Take a minute and think of someone that you are thankful for – your significant other, your work best friend, your real best friend, your child(ren), the friend that always sends funny memes to lift your spirits, a coworker that makes your life easier, your sports watching buddy, your gym buddy, a teacher or coach that impacted your life, your favorite cashier at the grocery store – it can be anyone that you are thankful for.
  • Second step – Text, email or call them right now and tell them that you are thankful for them and why. Now, I know, out of the blue if you look at your partner and say “hey honey, I’m thankful for you and all that you do for our family” – they may think you’re dying – assure them that you are not and that you are being serious and that you are thankful they are in your life. Don’t be shy and don’t get bogged down by your internal thoughts that they might think you are weird. Do not be afraid to show this side of yourself. Just do it already! You will not regret it.

Ok – you did it! Good for you – high five! Now spend some time reflecting on that exercise. How did that feel?  How did the person react? Do you think this small act of thankfulness impacted their day? How? Now that you’ve taken this big step and gotten the first one out of the way, try to do something like this often – maybe every day doesn’t work for you – but shoot for at least once a week, or when you are thinking to yourself, “gosh I am happy this person is in my life”.

Seeing The World Through A New Lense

Seeing the world through the lens of thankfulness instead of through sorrow for our old normal is one way that we can help ourselves persevere and come through this year with an increased sense of happiness and fulfillment. Plus, this is a practice that can benefit both your personal and professional life. It may be easier to start with friends and family, but be sure to add a co-worker, supervisor, or employee into your gratitude rotation. It is the perfect time to let those who have made a positive impact on your life know how much they are appreciated. Remember, share that gratitude, and share it often!

Feeling and expressing gratitude is an important part of emotional intelligence.  CMR Institute has recently created new resources on empathy that can help you increase your EQ. Contact us below, to learn more.

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