Joey Velez, MA, MBA
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us in many ways, from learning a new daily routine to the rationing of our household goods and even how to remain productive with the ever-constant distractions that surround our home lives, such as the temptation to relax every time we walk into the living room. However, in some ways, there is a slight silver lining to this dark cloud. This time in isolation has allowed us to connect with people from our past and with family members more often. It has afforded us the opportunity to try new things due to the amount of “free time” there seems to be. With the majority of the world in a state of crisis and a lot of our luxuries and privileges taken away from us for the time being, now is an excellent time to think about all we are grateful for. You do not realize how good you have it until something gets taken away from you. Therefore, we should develop an attitude of gratitude to use as an everyday reminder of that.
Developing My Own Attitude of Gratitude
Last year, I experienced a couple of firsts within the game of basketball. It was my first experience as the head coach at my old high school where I led the junior varsity team. The role opened up the opportunity to be a head coach at the club level after the high school season ended. The organization that I coached for was widely known throughout the club circuit, especially on the west coast. I noticed early on that the coaches and the administrative staff emphasized the importance of gratitude to the kids. After every practice, the head coach of the top team would always remind everyone to thank their parents, coaches and even their teammates, culminating with the kids saying how grateful they were to have and enjoy this experience. The organization's mission was to have an “attitude of gratitude”. While I agreed that we should be grateful, I definitely thought that what they were doing was somewhat corny, but they were paying me, so I went along with it. I enjoy playing and coaching the game, and I appreciate every chance I get to do so, but my mind would begin to wander when they started talking about gratitude.
It wasn't until the early stages of this pandemic and moving across the country for work that I began to adopt this attitude of gratitude, and truly understood the impact this mindset can have. As I am writing this, I cannot help but think about my family and how grateful I am for them. Not just with how supportive they have been in my recent move, but I had to lean on them a lot over these past few years as I dealt with financial instability and trying to find myself. There were times when I struggled to pay rent and buy groceries, and they never hesitated to help me out. I was scammed to start the year, and they did not think twice about providing me with the emotional and financial support that I needed. Without them, I would not be in the amazing place where I am now, where I am pursuing my life's mission in motivating and inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves and to not feel the burden of financial instability. Not only am I grateful for them getting me to this point, but also helping me to take a deeper look into how they have helped me grow throughout my life.
Don’t Wait, Incorporate!
There are several ways to include an attitude of gratitude practice into your daily routine. One of those is to start your morning by telling yourself, or a significant other, three things that make you grateful. By starting your day off this way, you develop a sense of appreciation, which is a very powerful way to positively affect not only your life but the lives of others.
You can also incorporate journaling every night before you go to bed and include three things you were grateful for that day. This process can help you become more aware of what goes on behind the scenes with the daily tasks you completed. For example, if you went grocery shopping in the morning and the shelves were fully stocked with the items you were looking for, an attitude of gratitude would realize that somebody had to get up before the crack of dawn to stock those shelves, and without them, you might not have the groceries that you need. It can also help you end your day with that same sense of appreciation that you did to start your day, thereby completing your day with a rush of positive emotions and going to bed with a clearer conscious.
If you live at home with your family and eat together, you can incorporate a brief discussion on things that you were grateful for that day. Again, bringing light to the things, people or anything else that helped you get through the day. Even if you do not typically have family dinners, this is a great way to start having them because it is an opportunity to connect with your family on a different level. With the way technology is nowadays, these small moments where we can sit and talk with our family about real-life experiences as opposed to being engulfed in our phones do not happen as often. So, we should be grateful that we have this opportunity, and we should make the most of it.
I’ll Leave You with This
The negative impact this pandemic has had on society cannot be understated. However, it can have an enormous positive impact on our mental wellness and our ability to acknowledge things about our life we may have let slip through the cracks. We take for granted being able to go outside and go to the park; we take for granted being able to see family and friends as we please, and do not understand the importance of doing those things until they have been taken away from us. We also take for granted certain professions and the daily operational duties performed by others where we previously viewed them as “they are just doing their job” versus an actual necessity for functional living.
You can start developing an attitude of gratitude by using this time to form a better understanding and appreciation of the world around us. So, I challenge you to really think about all the things you are grateful for after you read this. Come up with a list of 5-10 things you are grateful for and share them with another individual. Turn this into a daily habit and begin the process of a great appreciation of all that we have in our lives.