Moving Forward, Together, In Gratitude

This life-changing pandemic has been painful and heartbreaking for countless individuals and families. So many of us have experienced loss of life, connection and employment; we share grief, isolation, uncertainty and fear. It can be difficult as we emerge into a post-pandemic world to establish our new normal; we’re essentially establishing a new way of living.

We’re collectively in a better place than we were a year ago, but we must acknowledge that we still live in a difficult time. We can intentionally move forward in a positive and productive way by embracing a gratitude practice. We all have missed out on our normal lives for more than a year, and we need to be thoughtful as we engage in a new normal. We need to focus on healing, purpose and gratitude and consider how to live more gratefully.

Many books, podcasts and websites exist to teach us about gratitude; the most important piece is learning how to embrace gratitude as a way of living by developing a “gratitude practice.” We need to practice gratitude as we would practice playing a musical instrument or learning another language. As with most things, the more we practice, the better we get. It’s not about being naturally positive or always able to see the glass half full. Sometimes, we must work to make the choice to be grateful.

Establishing a daily gratitude practice will benefit you and those around you in many (some unimaginable) ways. Some of the positive changes you may experience will be mental and emotional while others will be physical or spiritual. Furthermore, this is a constructive way of processing the difficult time we have been through and creating our path forward.

Here are two ways to establish a gratitude practice:

1. Write down several things for which you are grateful every day. This does not need to be a formal “gratitude journal” but it needs to be done most days for it to become a gratitude practice. You can jot down ideas in list form or write a paragraph or two. You may want to include those special people who brightened your day. More practice ideas are available here.

2. Tell people how grateful you are that they’re in your life. Share a specific detail about another person that you appreciate or thank this person for something specific they did for you. I suggest keeping your words simple, genuine and heartfelt. Whether you are close to the person or not, sharing your gratitude with and for others positively impacts both you and the recipient in many powerful ways. Learn more about how to encourage gratitude here. 

This intentional path forward invites us to look deep within ourselves and also to engage with one another — to communicate with one another, be authentic and sensitive with one another, and, maybe most importantly, it encourages us to move forward with hope and in community with one another. I sincerely hope you will join me in establishing a gratitude practice.

Tristen K. Amador, PhD, MSW, is Associate Dean and Professor of Health Services Education in the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions at Regis University. Amador teaches Leadership and Management in Health Care, Masters Project Thesis, Health Coaching, and Health Care Administration Capstone for undergraduate and graduate students at Regis.

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