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Tag: Managing Emotions

Redefining Gratitude

There’s no shortage of social media posts about gratitude – it’s that time of year. Gratitude comes easy in November, but what about February or August – how do you sustain it all year long?

What is gratitude?

I’m a word nerd, so I did some internet research on the meaning of gratitude. The GNU Collaborative International Dictionary of English (GCIDE) entry for gratitude includes a handful of definitions. The second entry, “warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor” is what I think of this time of year. It conveys a sense of awe for the force or deity that works on our behalf.

That definition of gratitude is what I learned as a kid. It was reinforced by my parents who told me it was important to be grateful in all things. That was a heavy burden for a young child. Maybe it would have felt less burdensome if I’d learned to categorize it in my mind as the third definition from GCIDE: “kindness awakened by a favor received.” (Reference)

It’s much like the distinction I make between happiness and contentment. Happiness is something I initiate, but contentment comes from simply being present to the people and experiences that make my life full. Thinking about it in similar terms, gratitude is something I initiate, but kindness awakens in response to something I’ve received.

Gratitude can help heal

The world isn’t always conducive to gratitude. Sometimes, I encounter people who behave badly and I, sometimes, behave badly in response. Then I find myself feeling far less than grateful. I used to let those bad experiences define my day, but I’ve learned to manage them differently.

If I find myself in a funk, I take a break and go in search of something I can do for someone else. Whether it’s buying lunch for a friend, picking up litter in the neighborhood, or writing a recommendation for a former co-worker on LinkedIn, making a contribution redirects negative energy toward something beneficial.

These are my tips for living in gratitude – redefine it when it becomes burdensome and reconnect to it after a bad experience. But there’s one more thing you can do to allow more space in your life for being grateful, and that’s to practice forgiveness.

Nothing gets in the way of gratitude like resentment. When you start to notice it creeping into your head, pay attention. You may need to forgive yourself or someone else in order to experience full-on gratitude. It might even make your Thanksgiving Day meal more pleasant.

So, please join me in redefining gratitude this November. Let kindness be awakened in you by virtue of a favor you received. And let kindness sustain you in gratitude all year long!

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

Social Media: In Pursuit of the Greater Good

You’ve noticed how easily you become distressed by the volatility in social media posts. What starts as sincere conviction about a topic quickly digresses into personal insults or worse. Your humanity is both cause and cure for the way your conversations do harm or good. And you have emotional intelligence tools to manage yourself so you don’t get dragged into the fray of destructive arguments.

Give yourself some social media rules

You can keep engaged in social media and feel good about doing so. It takes time to find the right combination, but here are some suggestions to help you find the combination for you.

    • Enter consciously

      Before you log onto a social media site, remind yourself that you are entering a danger zone, of sorts. As you enter, you carry your closely-held beliefs and opinions and are among people with like and differing closely-held beliefs and opinions. Assume good intent on the part of others, as you do for yourself.

    • Read to learn

      Much like listening in a conversation, use your listening skills as you read what’s on the screen. You don’t have to do anything except take in information. Let your brain process what you read without writing anything initially. If and/or when you feel convicted to engage, do what’s next.

    • Respond, don’t react

      Social media posts cannot convey tone or sincerity the same way conversation does. That said, you’ve already let your brain process what you read, so now you can take time to distill the information into a response. If you have a differing opinion, build empathy with the person posting by saying something supportive. Then, offer your view with clear, concise wording.

    • Don’t talk to strangers

      You’ve probably failed at this one, like almost everyone has. What you can do to keep yourself away from this trap is simply not respond. You can reinforce your opinion by liking, thanking, or applauding the contributions of others who share that point of view. When you engage with people you don’t actually know, first ask if you can share your differing perspective. If they respond, do your best to express empathy and then share your ideas. Avoid baiting, confrontational language, and personal attacks. Remind yourself that this is an optional and difficult way of engaging.

    • Do something good

      When you’ve reached your social media limit, walk away from the screen and engage with others. Maybe it’s a visit with a friend who is ill or a hand-written note to someone to acknowledge a good deed. Or maybe it’s a phone call with someone in your family or making plans for dinner with your spouse. Perhaps you sit down on the floor to play with your dogs. The point is to return to a state of gratitude and service by engaging with the people or creatures in your life.

MissionCoachBeaconOne closing thought: give yourself a beacon. There is power in a physical object that reminds you to return to your higher self. This small compass on my desk compels me return to my course of being a better human. I hope it inspires you!

Living in the world of technology means you are constantly bombarded with information. It gives you a way to learn about others, but requires some responsibility to apply what you learn to serve the greater good.

Bradley K. Ward, ACC is a leadership and transformational coach at The Mission Coach, LLC in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you do what you do, better!

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