Showing Yourself & Others Grace While Living a Life of Gratitude

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Spread Your Sunshine Founder Melanie S. Griffin, Esq. recently served as the Featured Speaker for the University of South Florida’s Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement Lunchtime Leadership Series. The presentation, Showing Yourself & Others Grace While Living a Life of Gratitude, focused on defining gratitude and grace and strategies to help you grow in such practices. While this presentation was presented in the university setting, almost all of the discussion and advice given is information that can be applied in anyone’s personal and professional lives. We therefore hope these ideas help fabulous YOU as you strategize how you will best live a life of gratitude and grace that helps you shine your brightest.

The Positive Impact of Practicing Gratitude & Showing Grace

Gratitude, at its core, is a feeling of appreciation that is usually associated with positivity. Grace is associated with courteous goodwill.

Gratitude and grace have a significant impact on our lives and mindset, including how we feel, contribute, and help others. These skills have been shown to open doors to more relationships​, enhance empathy​, reduce aggression​, and improve self-esteem, physical health, psychological health, and mental strength. Gratitude and grace also help facilitate better sleep, the benefits of which are numerous: it helps to boost the immune system​, prevent weight gain, strengthen the heart​, improve mood​, increase productivity, enhance performance, and improve memory​, self-esteem, mental strength, and physical and physiological health. In short, as noted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “[m]any studies over the past decade have found that people who consciously count their blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.”

Strategies to Grow in Gratitude & Grace

Given the many benefits of bestowing gratitude and grace that are extended to both you and those with whom you interact, the incentives are high to grow in such practices. The following are some of our favorite strategies to help you do so.

Practice Self-Love to Better Extend Gratitude & Grace to Others

Extending gratitude and grace requires operating from a healthy headspace. Indulging in negative self-talk only falsely undermines the positivity you can share with the world. Just like reading positive quotes leaves you feeling inspired, consuming hurtful thoughts causes negativity and self-doubt. To stay on track to own your self-worth and best use your unique talents for the betterment of the world, you must focus on building and maintaining your confidence.

Achieving such a positive mindset requires repetition. Just like a healthy physique is the result of frequent exercise and good nutrition, a healthy mindset is the product of regular self-care and self-love. So, be mindful of your mental consumption, as it has a direct correlation to the energy you pour into everyone around you.

To channel your awesomeness, consider writing out your positive qualities so that you can see them listed and reference them as needed. You can also put physical reminders (e.g., Post-it Notes) in areas of high visibility (e.g., your bathroom mirror, bedstand, jewelry armoire, padfolio, refrigerator, computer, desk), use a self-affirmation journal, or calendar electronic reminders to train your brain to focus on your fabulousness to the exclusion of perceived and self-imposed shortcomings. The method you choose is not important, the outcome is. You must have a roadmap to keep your brain on course when times are good and to fall back on when negativity creeps in.

Be Your Community’s #1 Fan

It is important to not just think someone is fantastic, but to tell them. Your acknowledgment is the difference between someone experiencing self-doubt or actualizing their self-worth. Without your feedback, others do not realize how much you appreciate and admire them. Knowing what you think, however, boosts their self-esteem and invigorates their confidence. The ability to have such a tremendous positive impact on the lives of others is one of your incredible superpowers.

The good news is that creating this positive impact is as easy or hard as you make it. For example, you can send hand-written notes, treat people to meals, or purchase gifts that require time and/or money. Or, you can send quick and free messages that may be just as impactful via text, e-mail and direct message. Anyone who has emailed an organization, given a Zoom presentation to attendees who are not heard or seen, or the like can appreciate the latter. When there are crickets upon sending the message or when delivering the keynote, self-doubt creeps in. The longer the silence, the more anxiety you feel. But, the instant you see a reply, message in the chat, or social media post confirming how wonderful you are, your insecurity melts away and you are back on track to succeed. Empowering others to keep going and move forward is one of the greatest gifts you can share.

You likewise energize your community when you periodically initiate contact and foster open dialogue. People crave validation that they matter, are appreciated, and are heard. When you personally connect with others to share your gratitude, you demonstrate that you are a trusted resource and provide such validation, resulting in the growth of your community’s confidence and the positive impact you can make in the world together.

Curious as to one of the best ways to show gratitude? Send a hand-written note! In a society overwhelmed by digital communications, receiving a personalized message makes a big impact. It is also a tangible keepsake of your appreciation. Given how few people express their gratitude, let alone through a card or other memento, your note may be the only item on the recipient’s desk, laptop, or chalkboard that consistently reminds them of the joy they bring to the world. Thus, this simple act of kindness should never be underestimated; it packs a powerful punch as one of the best tools you have to truly brighten someone's day, week, month, year!! 

And, do not fret over the timing of your message if it is “delayed,” it is never too late to show gratitude. In fact, the best practice may be to wait before expressing your appreciation. The more time that has passed, the more you can tell the recipient how the investment they made in you positively impacted your life.

Address Your Challenges

While there are many legitimate reasons people choose not to share their struggles, doing so has multiple benefits that will lessen your burdens, making it easier to maintain and share a positive and grateful attitude. Firstly, talking about your stresses helps to release them, lowering your stress-level and boosting your physiological health. For example, if you have lost someone close to you and are experiencing grief, opening up to a close friend or viewing old pictures for cemetery headstones and grave markers with someone you love may help you start the healing process.

Second, others may view your challenges differently than you, brainstorming solutions beyond those that you identified independently. By allowing others to help you with your struggles, you will form a collective brain trust that will solve your problems more quickly and effectively than you can solve them on your own.

Furthermore, you are a blessing to your family and friends, not a burden. Your closest confidants want to help you and see you shine your brightest. Telling them the specific ways they can do so will ease their anxiety about the situation and provide relief that they now know how they can best help you during a difficult time.

Gratitude & Grace Are Mindsets: Additional Ideas to Strengthen Them

Need additional tips on how to strengthen your gratitude and grace mindset? Keep reading, we’ve got you covered.

Start Your Day with Gratitude

Every day can be successful with the right mindset. To create a framework for positivity, refrain from checking your email and social media accounts first thing in the morning. Instead, begin your day with an activity like journaling what you will accomplish or envisioning how you will react if a situation goes as planned? Worse? Better?

Reserve part of your day to exercise. Whether it is hitting the gym, completing an online class, or walking around your house during periodic breaks, you will benefit from the extra endorphins.

To best focus on and achieve your priority tasks, ignore your inbox for at least 60% of the day. Without your emails constantly in front of you, you can proactively accomplish your goals instead of spending your day reacting to others’ “emergencies.”

As a part of this practice, limit your screen time, including putting your cell phone to bed at night. Both your mind and your eyes are worthy of rest, so give them the time they need to relax and recover.

Extend Grace to Everyone With Whom You Interact

One of the best ways to extend grace to others is to treat everyone in your life as a “customer.” From fur babies, to clients, to colleagues, to family and friends, create a fantastic “experience” for everyone with whom you interact by giving them your full attention and acting as you want to be remembered.

One way to make a good impression is to operate from a place of understanding, not judgment. For example, instead of immediately assuming the worst when someone misses a deadline or no-shows to a meeting, take a deep breath and consider all the possibilities before acting. While it is possible that the responsibility was intentionally shirked, it is most likely that there is a reasonable explanation for, and solution to, the situation. Showing that you care about the circumstances avoids creating unnecessary animosity and curries better favor with the community you want to love and support.

When extending grace, do not forget that it should also be extended to you. Forgiving yourself is hard. So hard, in fact, that you may dwell on personal “failures” for which you would immediately forgive others. Giving yourself grace and moving on from disappointments, however, will allow you to focus on new ideas instead of fixating on the negative. Do not let *you* be the obstacle holding *you* back.

Intentionally Transition Throughout the Day & Schedule Periodic Breaks

Regardless of how much you are juggling, it is critical that you break every 45-90 minutes throughout the day. Although you may be tempted to work straight through a project, stopping to stretch, take a quick walk, or do something else to clear your mind will help your body recharge, allowing you to work more productively for longer periods of time.

Likewise, intentionally transitioning between tasks relieves stress and anxiety and helps you focus on being your best *you* in the present moment. For example, when you first arrive to work in the morning, before rushing into your first meeting or project, take a deep breath and envision the day ahead of you. What will you accomplish? What experience will you create for your Team when they interact with you? How will you address challenges that arise? Intentionally focusing on what is ahead instead of mindlessly rushing between appointments will improve the experiences you have and that you create for everyone around you.

Intentionally Curate A Grateful Inner Circle

The five people with whom you spend the most time have the biggest influence on your mindset. Consider who these people are in your life. Do they show gratitude and practice grace? Do they uplift others? Are they an aspirational role model? Or, do they focus on the negative, causing you to do so as well and preventing you from reaching your full potential? If the latter, you should make a change to your inner circle. Doing so will likely make a critical difference in the talents and gifts you can share with the world.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully the strategies herein provide you with a platform to expand your gratitude and grace practices. For additional ideas and information, view this presentation in its entirety by clicking here or on the video below.

Is there anything that YOU want to learn about that will help the SYS community?! We’re sure you do, so please share your requests by emailing or by sending Spread Your Sunshine a message via Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter. We love hearing from you, as together, we are our best.

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