“Small seeds of gratitude will produce a harvest of hope.”—Unknown
Positive psychology researchers define hope as “the ability to produce pathways to desired goals and the motivation to use those pathways.”
In times of uncertainty, such as with the current pandemic, the hope of accomplishing personal and professional goals has diminished significantly. As a result, the overwhelming obstacles to achieving goals leave many people experiencing greater negative emotions and a decrease in life satisfaction and well-being.
Think back to goals you, your family or coworkers set at the beginning of 2020. Most likely, there were feelings of hope and steps in motion to support reaching those goals. Perhaps a goal to strengthen a relationship, take a long-awaited family vacation, further advance in your career, or achieve greater health and well-being. And, while the hope you felt for future goal attainment may seem dim, research also affirms that practicing gratitude creates hope, optimism, and is considered one of the strongest predictors of life satisfaction (among adults in the U.S).
About Those Goals
It’s highly likely the pandemic has prompted you to reflect on your life and required you to reprioritize what’s “really” important. Perhaps there’s a yearning for a greater sense of purpose or clarity and courage to let go of what’s not working.
Take time to revisit your 2020 goals and decide whether they still provide the same level of inspiration to accomplish them. Tweak, if necessary, to acknowledge shifts in long- and short-term action steps. You also deserve to discover new goals in your personal and professional life that now seem more meaningful and imaginable had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic (there’s even gratitude in that revelation).
About That Gratitude
Expanding your awareness of gratefulness in your life can serve as a means to overcome feelings of hopelessness for those goals and aspirations that now seem out of reach or significantly delayed. Known for building resilience and offering significant coping techniques, practicing gratitude can minimize the frustration and angst over the current circumstances. Gratitude will give you HOPE!
Consider any or all of the following practice techniques and set gratitude goals as follows:
1) Schedule one day a week to reflect on how often (the frequency) you felt grateful over the past week. Track the actual numbers weekly.
2) Write down Three Good Things that went well each day for a week and write down who/what created this positive occurrence.
3) Share your new goals with someone you trust and invite them to reflect with you on your short and long-term action steps. Have an honest discussion on how attainable they are. You may find an accountability partner in the process, you will definitely find gratitude for this person.
4 ) Reflect on past accomplished goals and create a list of individuals who helped you achieve them. Decide to reach out and express your gratitude for how they helped you in the past– send a hand-written thank you note, call them on the phone, Facetime, etc. Set a date to deliver the message.
Practicing gratitude shouldn’t feel like another item on your to-do list and sometimes you may need to start with a small step of reflection. Try this… next time you’re washing your hands reflect on an experience or person you’re grateful for. Think about 1) how you’ve benefitted either by the experience or having this person in your life and 2) why it’s meaningful to you. That’s all, just reflect and savor the moment.
And by the way…We’ve created a free workbook, Gratitude Heals During a COVID-19 Crisis. Twenty pages of gratitude exercises, tools, quotes, and resources to strengthen and develop your gratitude practice. Available in English and Spanish. To get your free copy, click here
Photo courtesy of William Bout unsplash.com