Week 36: Gratitude

Back in March, at the very start of the quarantine, I signed up for an online class through Coursera. The class, titled "The Science of Well Being," was supposedly one of the top classes on offer at Yale University. A friend of mine had posted on Facebook recommending the course and as I'm always on the lookout for ways to learn and improve my overall life balance, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up. I haven't quite yet finished the course, but one of the early lectures was centered on the concept of gratitude and the positive benefits associated with it.

Depending on the context in which it's written, the word "gratitude" from the Latin "gratia", means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is a positive emotional state in which one recognizes and appreciates what one has received in life. More important than the word's definition is the plethora of studies which have shown how gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

Hopefully by now, some of you have listened to my Q&A session with the Co-Host of the "Taking Her Lead Podcast," which aired this week. While this week's blog post isn't about the recording, or even about the airing; it is about the days following the airing and more importantly, the realization that my story wouldn’t actually be my story at all if it wasn’t for the many people who've helped support me over the years.

Earlier this week I was re-listening to the recording and it was like a light bulb went off in my head; I couldn't stop thinking about that "gratitude" lecture from my online class back in March. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had never actually said thank you to any of the people who'd played pivotal roles over the years in my professional ascendancy. This week was about each and every one of them. I wanted to take the opportunity to somehow say thank-you and to let them know just how much they'd done for me and how much I appreciated it.

I started by sending text messages, but after the first few I realized I would need another avenue of communication because I didn’t actually have contact info for everyone; so that’s when I turned to LinkedIn. While each message was slightly different and unique in its own way, the underlying sentiment was very consistent: I thanked them for being part of my journey and helping to guide and direct me over the years.

One message led to another and over the course of the week I sent in excess of fifty messages. The level of response varied with a few people not responding, but the majority of recipients were truly thankful that I'd reached out to them. In more than one instance, I've been able to reconnected with someone from my past who I haven't spoken to in years. The added bonus is I can totally envision some of us reestablishing a genuine connection and building a stronger relationship as a result. My simple message of thanks was not only making me happier, but was also bringing joy and happiness to them as well.

If reaching out to people seems a little daunting, something as simple as a gratitude journal can go a long way in brightening your day and changing your overall perspective. The best part is that in times of uncertainty and chaos, the simple art of gratitude can really be the best form of medicine; helping you to free your mind, relieve stress, and create an overall sense of groundedness.


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