Personal Growth & Development

Thanksgiving 2020: Gratitude in the Midst of COVID-19

Sometimes we forget that Thanksgiving got its name for a specific reason; it is a time where we are meant to reflect and show gratitude for all the good things in our lives…shifting out of a scarcity mindset into one of abundance and contentment.

Would you agree that it has been particularly difficult to show gratitude in 2020? Thousands of people have lost their lives to the coronavirus, and millions have lost their jobs, putting them in challenging financial situations. In response to the virus and attempt to reduce the infection rate, most of us have been isolated at home. While physically distancing ourselves from one another may be necessary, the lack of social interaction has impacted mental health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported an 891% increase in calls from this time last year. The pandemic, along with related social and economic conditions -- including issues of injustice brought to light by our country’s racial inequities -- has caused many people to feel psychologically defeated. It is sad to say that many people are feeling a myriad of negative emotions on a daily basis, including anxiety, sadness, depression, helplessness, loneliness, and sometimes panic. There is no sugar coating our current situation - many of us are suffering like never before.

In a December 2014 Rough Notes article entitled "The Attitude of Gratitude...Holidays 365 Days a Year,” I defined gratitude as an internally generated capability that allows you to discover unlimited meaning and value in every situation and relationship in life. Simply put, gratitude shifts your focus from what your world lacks to the abundance that is already present. You may be interested to know that behavioral and psychological research provides evidence of both physical and mental life improvements that stem from choosing an attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks will make you more resilient, improve your health, reduce stress, and strengthen relationships.

Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., authors of How Full is Your Bucket? surveyed more than 4 million people worldwide on this topic. Their analysis, which included more than 10,000 business units and more than 30 industries, found that individuals who received regular recognition and praise – expressions of gratitude for a job well done – experienced the following changes:

  • Increased individual productivity,
  • Increased engagement with their colleagues,
  • Increased employee retention,
  • Receive higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from their customers, and
  • Had better safety records and fewer accidents.

Author Angeles Arrien wrote, "Gratitude is a feeling that spontaneously emerges from within. However, it is not simply an emotional response; it is also a choice that you make."

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