I recently had to book a last-minute flight to Houston.
I am the kind of person who, no matter what, loves to go to the airport because I love meeting new people and hearing about where they are going or stories from their trip over a drink before my flight or during layovers. I know I am a rare breed in that way. Between the political tension in the air, however, and our love for devices…I hate to say I feel as though I lost a bit of that feeling on this trip. Everyone was either staring at their phone or laptop and in a surly moods.
My flight back was rerouted to Los Angeles late at night. I had promised my daughter I would tuck her in when I got home. So, my first reaction was, "ughh… how am I going to get home?!".
I felt angry and annoyed and probably didn’t hide it very well. But I decided “Well, what can you do?” So, I booked a rental car and planned to get home a little later. We got off the plane and the attendant didn’t know where our bags were or if they would be available until the next day…double ugh! At this point, I didn’t do well with hiding my frustration but tried to remain calm and figure out what to do next. I went up to another attendant and asked and she knew thank goodness. They would be putting our bags on the carousel. However, while asking her, a man walked by and screamed at her calling her an idiot and berated the employees working to figure out how to handle the situation. (He wasn’t the first to do this, just one of the louder ones) I was taken aback, this poor flight attendant is working in the middle of the night just trying to do her job. It isn’t her fault that there is no visibility at the destination airport. I am also sure that it wasn’t her choice to reroute the plane. And it surely isn’t her decision on how the airline would reimburse the customers. When did we all find it ok to scream at or treat people who work in customer service like they are below us or owe us something? How can we get back to civility and a sense of community? I know I am not good at this sometimes; I am sure that people noticed I was frustrated when I was trying to find a car. Another thought I had was, well who am I to judge? I wonder what must be going on in that man’s life that allowed him to get so upset?
This was a simple reminder to me to be grateful. I had the means to obtain a rental car, I was not far from home, I had family at home waiting for me and making sure I was ok, I have a home. Sometimes in moments of frustration, what helps me is to count my blessings and simply be grateful and maybe I can help by not adding to the chaos and anger.
I recently came across this article written by Serenity Gibbons for Success.com and felt it was worth sharing:
“7 Ways to Practice Gratitude to Help You Grow
It’s easy to focus on what’s going wrong in times of crisis, like this pandemic, but choosing to see only the bad makes things harder. It doesn’t usually fix anything.
While periods of uncertainty are stressful, they’re also an opportunity for positive growth. That’s why instead of simmering in your worry, you should practice gratitude.
Research suggests being grateful not only makes people happier, but it also helps them face adversity. By refocusing on what they already have, gratitude helps people shift from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance. And abundance is empowering because it not only highlights the rewards of hard work, but it also because it provides a sense of security.
Reflecting on our blessings shows us that we have the tools and opportunities we need to succeed. But if we’re not deliberate about it, setbacks can mentally crowd out all the good things in our lives.
Especially in times like these, gratitude must be practiced daily to produce growth.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Be vulnerable with strangers.
Humans are social creatures, so being cooped up at home is not just physically isolating but mentally isolating. Reaching out to strangers, even remotely, promotes gratitude. The reason goes back to scarcity; meaningful interactions with strangers are stark evidence of social abundance.
You may not feel comfortable going to community events right now, but you can still connect online. Look for virtual meetups—it could be business networking or a hobby group you feel comfortable with. What matters is having real conversations with new people. I recently attended a virtual dinner experience hosted by community builder 7:47, and even though I didn’t know many of the attendees, we bonded by sharing our stories.
2. Write thank-you notes by hand.
Saying “thank you” is a small but powerful way to produce gratitude. It makes the thanked individual feel good, but it also benefits the person giving thanks.
Writing a thank-you note is a physical way to reflect on your blessings. The key is to write it by hand: Not only does the process of handwriting take more time—meaning more time for reflection—but it’s more meaningful to the recipient, too. In a survey of 2,000 American adults, 81% said they view handwritten thank-you notes as more thoughtful than digital ones; surprisingly, millennials felt this way even more than older generations.
3. Surprise others with shared experiences.
Gifts are a great way to express gratitude, but giving an object is, for the most part, a one-and-done affair. To maximize the gratitude generated—in yourself, as well as others—give experiences instead. Surprise them so you can see their delight when you announce it and enjoythe experience.
Don’t let COVID-19 stand in your way. Go rock climbing outdoors. Treat an old friend to a round of golf. Play a board game online together. When in doubt, learn something together. This does double duty by making you feel grateful for the relationship and by helping you develop a new skill or interest.
4. Reflect on your hardships.
While it might sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to build gratitude is to reflect on your hardships. In doing so, you remind yourself just how strong and capable you are. Nothing is more empowering than being grateful for your talents.
Unlike the previous tips on this list, this activity is best done solo; sitting down with a friend to talk about your hardships has a way of turning into a gripe fest. But what if thinking about past challenges brings up negative feelings? Wait until you’re in a better headspace, and don’t be afraid to talk to a professional if the past continues to weigh on your mental health.
A common misconception about volunteering is that it only benefits the volunteered-for. In fact, the Make-A-Wish Foundation found that 97% of volunteers feel more grateful after working to deliver a child’s wish.
It’s not just volunteering for children for this effect to hold true. Whether you want to pick up trash in your community, donate your time at a food bank or mentor young professionals of color, the result is the same. Serve where you see the greatest need.
6. Give positive but challenging feedback.
You know how much you grow from your own hardships? Offering challenging but positive feedback to others helps them in a similar, though hopefully more supportive, way.
This tip speaks to the two-way nature of mentorship. Mentorship helps the mentor just as much as the mentee—building up others is fulfilling. It encourages reflection not just on the mentee’s progress but on your own path and the ways others have helped you navigate it. That cracks the door to additional growth opportunities, particularly in leadership and management.
7. Celebrate your failures.
While it’s easy to be grateful for the hardships you’ve overcome, what about the rest? What about your failures? Failure is actually good for success. According to Ralph Heath, author of Celebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes and Thinking Big, “Failure and defeat are life’s greatest teachers [but] sadly, most people, and particularly conservative corporate cultures, don’t want to go there.”
At work and elsewhere, failure is never fun. But in any situation, the “worst” outcome is often the best one for growth. Be grateful for that growth, and you’ll be less afraid to try something new next time.”
I am so grateful for my clients, friends, family, and referral partners. Thank you for everything you do to help me remain successful in an ever-changing industry. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if you have any lending needs in your future. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!