In March 2020, many of us watched with anxiety as much of the world shut down. Who would have thought that two years later, we would still be concerned about the impacts of COVID-19? Mental wellbeing and resilience, as individuals and also as communities, has remained a recurring theme throughout the pandemic. Oxford Languages (which powers Google’s definition boxes) defines resilience as, “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Sounds like a great idea but how do we achieve that?
Each year Blue Clarity adopts a theme to help guide what our year will look like. The theme often grows out of a personal journey or lesson that I think relates to work as well. Our company All-Hands Meetings and even the company’s holiday gifts reflect the lessons learned from the year’s theme. This year’s theme – “Designing Generosity and Gratitude”– stems from the idea that generosity and gratitude is not only helpful to others, but strengthens our own emotional and mental health. Many psychologists make connections between managing stress and the actions of generosity and gratitude. In fact, this is nothing new. Berkeley research from almost 20 years ago showed that gratitude contributes to greater wellbeing, life satisfaction, connectedness to others, and better physical health. Helping Others in Our Community is a Blue Clarity Core Value and a sub-theme every year, but with this year’s theme I also wanted to highlight doing good as a pragmatic way to grow resilience in ourselves and our communities, particularly amidst the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.
Finding ways to show generosity and gratitude during difficult times can seem like an impossible task. During difficult times we might feel consumed with addressing immediate threats and think that gratitude and acts of giving might stretch us beyond capacity. Although counterintuitive, the act of giving to or caring for others actually creates a sense of purpose and can help us coach ourselves during difficult times.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day holiday to unify our very divided country. Apparently, Lincoln was urged to do so by prominent writer Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” who envisioned a national day of thanks that would help heal the wounds created by the Civil War. Even amidst high stress, Lincoln could see the importance of gratitude and showing grace to his critics. In the words of one Forbes contributor: “...looking for the silver lining of a negative or difficult experience can help us reframe the moment as an opportunity to learn and grow.” It is sometimes precisely that suffering which helps an individual find strength that may not have been there before.
To me, these findings align with Blue Clarity’s Core Values to “Learn in Every Environment,” “Help Others in Our Community,” and “Live with Purpose and Enjoyment.” In our innovation methods, we begin by gaining empathy for our end-users. I find this an extremely valuable practice not only in work but in life too. When we empathize with others while going through difficulty ourselves, we can feel what others are feeling and, as a result, mutually strengthen one another against depression and stress. We tap into the power of camaraderie that develops as we go through difficult times together.
If you’re looking for ways to “design generosity and gratitude” and build resilience in your personal or work life, here are a few best practices you can implement immediately:
* Say it – Gratitude is a mental muscle. It might start out weak but the more you use it, the stronger you become. Be specific about what you are thankful for and the impact it had on you.
* Write it – Express your gratitude in either digital or hand-written form. Again, be specific. Let your recipient know that their actions or words made an impact.
* Keep a Thanksgiving journal – Challenge yourself to keep a journal for 30 days and record a new thing that you’re thankful for each day. It may help you notice the blessings that were previously clouded by the difficult times. It may change your perspective entirely.
At Blue Clarity we challenge ourselves as individuals but also corporately. In 2022, we will show gratitude and generosity in the following ways:
* Make donations that celebrate diversity and recognize the struggle of historically marginalized and underrepresented groups. We will donate throughout the year during the following heritage/recognition months to support the work of organizations working on these issues, particularly as they affect young people:
• National Black/African American History Month (February)
• National Women’s History Month (March)
• National Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
• National LGBTQ Pride Month (June)
• National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15-Oct 15)
• National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October)
• National American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November).
* Provide Blue Clarity thank you cards for employees to share with their colleagues, clients, and friends
* Gift Blue Clarity time and skills in innovation, engineering, or data science to a local non-profit organization
Did you like the ideas from this Insight post? Have something to say? Contact us and start a conversation with us today.