Work Sux, so be grateful

Work seems like an endless grind; you don’t love your job, you feel like your manager is un-supportive, you dislike your work environment, you don’t feel valued, or maybe there is not enough opportunity for professional development. On top of all that there is a global pandemic impacting the job market! Things are tough.

What if it wasn’t your manager, the lack of opportunity or the environment? What if it was the way you thought about your job?

What if it was you? 

Before you vehemently protest, hear me out! I have had a few slumps in my career that had me feeling underwhelmed by my job, it was easy to blame others or the environment, but that meant I was out of control. I hated that feeling (who doesn’t!) so I learnt to shift it by changing how I looked at my situation. If I was the only part I could control then I would need to focus on me. This all came about after spending six months in a position where there was almost no training and very little support to develop my skills. I felt like I was a sinking ship and as I scrambled for a life raft it became clear that the situation was not going to change so I’d have to learn how to swim, and fast!

After months of merely keeping my head above water, I was forced into a place of survival! I would call this the “survive to thrive” phase. I had to be resilient, self-motivated and completely control my mindset, but at first I wasn’t sure how and it was definitely easier said than done.

It all began to change for the better when I introduced a radical gratitude practice on a regular basis.In the study of Positive Psychology the ability to harness gratitudeis described as a personal virtue or strength, it is consistently and powerfully linked with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish experiences, have better health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships (Siegel, 2009). I began to truly comprehend the notion that “freedom is a state of mind”.

Since then I have found practicing gratitude to be one of the most empowering mindset strategies I’ve ever used and it is not to be underestimated! Seeking out things to be grateful for in my life and my job allowed me to become more resilient, empowered, adaptive, and show a bit of GRIT! It also helped me reduce my Monday morning dread also known as “the Monday scaries” and boost my mindset to one of determination and positivity.

So, What did I find to be grateful for?
I focused on what was working well in my life such as the wonderful colleagues I worked with who were unlike any other connections I had had in the past and the beautiful walk I had to work. I thought about the great friends I had to brunch and vent with, my supportive home life, my funny and kind housemate, my good health, even the sunny weather and the grassy noll I had to sit on at lunchtime became a special place for me to be present and appreciate my time in the sun. I would actually practice gratitude on said grassy noll and think about kind, supportive feedback I had been given which helped me stay in-tune with my strengths and self-worth on days when I was really struggling.

By now you may have noticed that, practicing gratitude isn’t just thinking positive it’s a deeper process, a more radical approach to seeing the good things in your life. You will notice when you start to think of things or people you are grateful for you will feel a sense of profound warmth and even happiness, whereas ‘trying’ to think positive can feel like pressure, a chore or even a little superficial. It’s important to remember when you practice gratitude it is completely normal for negative thoughts to creep in (its human nature), it’s how we respond and move forward that makes the difference.

It’s not always easy to be grateful and hold an open and positive attitude towards our situation or thoughts, make no mistake it is a practice that will take some time to master! It is perfectly normal to find the practice challenging at first, but in time like any repeated behaviour, it will become habitual and second nature.

I have found practicing radical gratitude at work so beneficial that I believe it can help you to grow exponentially as a professional and as a person. For me it is a tried and tested wellbeing and self-care strategy, It can lift us out of helplessness and help us to value the important things (including ourselves) rather than getting too caught up in negative thinking patterns that can make us feel trapped.

Give it a try! Start your gratitude practice now…

4 easy steps to get you started:

  1. Choose a mode or way of recording what you are grateful for; this may be in a journal, a special notebook (electronic options are fine) you can even post on social media (this keeps you accountable to the practice). Record a certain number of things you are grateful for each day. If this is new to you, you may begin with 1 thing to be grateful for each day. You might then take it up to 2-5 per day and so on.

Tip: physically writing in a journal or booklet is a great tactile option (it feels cool to go old school).

2. Start with simple things like food, a roof over your head, your comfy bed, hot showers etc. Slowly work into areas of your life like relationships you value and people you love. Begin to develop an attitude that is thankful and respectful towards yourself by acknowledging your strengths and your needs.

Tip: think of things people have reflected back to you, about who you are. Use the positive feedback you have received in your life to reframe your negative beliefs about yourself into healthier ones.

3. Be as descriptive and creative as you like by elaborating on how or why you are grateful, include your feelings or emotions that are attached. If creativity is your outlet you might like to make it into a poem, a rhyme, a picture, mind map or a song!

Tip: the feelings and emotions that come up around gratitude are important, try to sit with those good feels by stating I am grateful for____ because____ this makes me feel____

  • Us some prompts to get started!
  • What’s something you witnessed recently that reminded you that people are good? 
  • What’s improved about your life from this time last year? 
  • What aspects of your city or neighbourhood are you grateful for? 
  • Who is someone that really listens when you talk, and how does that affect you? 
  • What’s the best thing about your home, and have you taken the time to enjoy it recently? 
  • What’s something enjoyable you get to experience every day?
  • What’s a hard lesson that you were grateful to learn? 
  • What about today has been better than yesterday? 
  • What’s an aspect of your physical health that you feel grateful for? 
  • What’s something you are good at?
  • What is some of the positive feedback you have received in the past that you can revisit today? 
  • How has technology enhanced your life and your connections recently? 
  • How have you used your talents recently, and what have you enjoyed about doing that? 
  • What relationships are you grateful for? 
  • What made you laugh or smile today? 
  • What was the highlight of your day today? 
  • What was the highlight of your week? 

Remember; don’t think too hard or put expectation on the process. There is no wrong or right, you do you!

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