Working with our Emotions: Cultivating Gratitude

Since my side hustle is teaching yoga, as well as teaching folks to become yoga teachers, I have responded to a lot of questions during the last few weeks related to how to deal with the stress. I honestly haven’t shared anything in my responses that you haven’t heard elsewhere, such as the importance of stepping away from the computer, limit your social media and news feeds as well as getting proper sleep and exercise. However, though following all of these suggestions myself the last two weeks, by last Friday, I found myself emotionally spent and worn out. And, I was anxious. What was missing?

Some journaling this weekend helped me identify what was amiss – at least for me. And, the culprit was gratitude. Interestingly, gratitude isn’t something we talk much about in related to business. Sure, we offer thanks when a job is done well, and we are typically good about sharing kudos, congrats and provide recognition as appropriate. However, a true feeling of gratitude is more than that.  Being thankful is an act; while gratitude is a feeling. It is an emotion that we cultivate that can help guide our emotions during these challenging times. Being thankful expresses your sense of appreciation for an act, whereas being grateful expresses your sense of deep gratitude. Since being thankful typically corresponds to an act, it tends to expire after a bit of time, while gratitude is an emotion you can continue to cultivate.

So, how do you put this into practice?  Well for me, it required making a list of the things for which I am thankful. I limited myself to acts from the last week, especially those related to work. Top on my list was the quick response to numerous issues that our HR director handled, as well as how my team members moved around workload to make sure we met the last minute demands of many clients related to COVID-19 communication.  While these are amazing deeds for which I am extremely thankful, they don’t create any sort of calm for me related to the future and how we are going to navigate these challenging times. So, I moved on to the gratitude list.  Sitting with my emotions, I was able to identify true gratitude for the leadership of my organization. Being thankful is one thing, but having true gratitude allowed me to identify my trust in their ability to help us through this crisis. I also have tremendous gratitude for my team and the way they work together.  This acknowledgment helps qualm my constant fear I’ve had the last few weeks about what the future looks like, as I have confidence that we’ll figure it out as a team.  I applied this exercise on a personal level as well and was able to move into a space with less anxiety and apprehension.

As you head into finding your new normal, I encourage you to follow all that great advice about setting up a dedicated workspace, limiting news overload and eating well. But, I also encourage you to sit with your thoughts about related to being thankful and gratitude. We need both. Be well.

© 2020 by AOE. 

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