Reflections on Gratitude

“Gratitude turns what we have, into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie

This year has been full of unexpected twists and turns, joys and sorrows, growth and loss.  Living through a global pandemic as a small business owner and mother of 3 boys is a once-in-a-century experience.  When you layer in other challenges and tragedies, it seems to magnify and intensify those experiences, so much so that it can be difficult to describe. However, it is in our most challenging times that we are given the opportunity to discover who we really are.  These are the five key learnings from the past year that have impacted me and my business.

  1. Stay Grounded in your Values.  They provide clarity amidst the chaos.  Early on, during the Safer at Home order and amidst so much uncertainty, our values, as a family and as a business, provided certainty for how we were going to navigate the challenges ahead.  Amidst the challenges of 2020, values have provided a foundation that kept me grounded in my decision-making and focused on the long-term.
  2. Embrace Grief and Disappointment.  So many things looked different than what we expected this year.  Weddings, funerals, graduations, gatherings, travel plans, work functions and sporting events all had to be reimagined, canceled, postponed or held virtually.  Add in a dose of COVID-fatigue, racial injustice and political unrest, to make for a year that we will not forget.  I have a tendency to push through, overcome challenges that come my way and fill my time with being busy.  2020 forced me to stop and reflect.  While uncomfortable, allowing myself the time and space to grieve, also allowed for opportunities to heal and move forward with renewed energy.  That which we deny, tends to rob us of joy and energy.
  3. Have the Courage to be Vulnerable.  There’s freedom that comes with embracing imperfection. In times of uncertainty, it is impossible to have the answers.  I have learned so much about letting go of control, being transparent and authentic and inviting others in, to problem-solve and plan with me.  A friend and colleague of mine even pointed out how in the best of years, strategic plans always seem to change because we have the perception that we can control what the future may bring.  In reality, we get better results and stronger buy-in when we have the courage to risk ourselves with others.
  4. Find Gratitude in Every Circumstance.  There is something that we can learn from every situation and every relationship we encounter. Period. Our mindset shapes our outlook.
  5. Connection and Relationships Give you Strength.  You are not alone.  Even in this social distanced, COVID world that we’re living in, human connection is still a primary need that we all have. 

Despite COVID-19, racial injustice, political division and the emotional exhaustion many of us feel, I believe it’s important to do an inventory of the past year and reflect on all of the things we have to be thankful for.  Allow yourself to feel the pain of loss, sorrow and grief, in order to find reasons for gratitude.  It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.  Gratitude can open the door and help you to find your path out of the storm.  As Steve Maraboli said, “Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess.  And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”