As I listened to the first Sunday sermon for 2021, these words stood out for me “START WITH GRATITUDE”.
The reason they did is that for most of us, 2020 was nothing like we had anticipated. We were forced out of our comfort zones. We had to rethink how we live. Who knew that wearing masks would become the norm? Or that hugging friends would become a health risk? Our homes turned into offices, schools and churches as we avoided gatherings as a means to survival. What we thought would take a month became our new way of living and we had to adjust accordingly. Living with uncertainty took a toll on most of us knowingly or unknowingly, 2020 will be a year hard to forget.
As 2021 arrived and most of us were happy just to get over 2020. We exhaled and welcomed 2021 but with a bit of caution not knowing exactly what to expect. But the beauty of new seasons is that they bring a renewed sense of hope. And we dare to hope knowing that our hope will not be cut short (Proverbs 13:18).
As you process the year 2020 and come up with your 2021 resolutions, I encourage you to Start with Gratitude. You may wonder what you have to be grateful for, so here is a list of things you can be thankful for:
1. Life – seeing a new year is a blessing by itself.
You lived through a difficult period and you survived. Celebrate life. Maybe you are going through a rough season and living may seem more like a curse than a blessing but I encourage you to be thankful still. The fact that you are alive gives you a chance for a better tomorrow. Be thankful for today! For breath! For Life!
No man is an island. – John Donne
Throughout the year, you had people around you that made life bearable and probably contributed to your success. Be thankful for the friends, family and colleagues that they were a part of your 2020. If possible, write a thank you note to them – even if it’s just a text message. Maybe it’s a person who encouraged you with their presence on social media, write a thank you message to them and if possible specify your reason for appreciating them. Positive psychology studies have found immense benefits for saying thank you. For example, a study found that managers who remembered to say ‘thank you’ had more motivated teams. Another study found that spouses who expressed gratitude were also able to express their concerns more freely. So go ahead and appreciate them.
If the person you would like to thank is no longer with us, why don’t you take a minute and write down your thank you letter even though they will not read it. The exercise will be beneficial to you.
If you are a believer, be thankful for the relationship with Christ Jesus. He is our rock, our sustainer and our eternal HOPE.
“Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is the best teacher.” John Maxwell
What lessons did you learn in 2020 through experience? Evaluate your year and be thankful for the insights you gathered be it from good or bad experiences. Find ways to give meaning to your setbacks. Be thankful for the lessons that you learnt. Maybe working from home helped you see that you are disciplined. Maybe losing your job helped you find your passion. Maybe the lockdown gave you more time with family and you have built stronger relationships. Maybe you got more rest when your travel plans were cancelled. Maybe you got a new job or just got married or got a baby. There are many things to be thankful for.
Finally, thank yourself for the good choices you made in 2020. Celebrate yourself for a moment. For example, ‘I thank myself for choosing to replace my toothbrush with a new one every quarter.’ It will sound cheesy but go ahead and celebrate yourself!
I hope that this exercise will bring a smile to your face as you realize how blessed you are. Start the year with Gratitude and find reasons to be thankful everyday. If this is a culture you would like to cultivate, then consider having a gratitude journal or a thank you jar where you write ‘thank you’ notes everyday and drop them in the jar. When you find yourself whining and complaining, take your thank you jar or gratitude journal and remind yourself of the good things that have happened to you.
If you are like me, you will possibly start and then fumble and lose momentum along the way… but don’t let that stop you. You might forget to note what you are thankful for a couple of days, but when you remember, please pick up your pen and write another thank you note.
I want to end by thanking you for sparing your time to read my article. I wish you a great year ahead full of great moments and great lessons through the wins and the painful losses. Count your blessing today and know that God is able to do so much more than you can think, ask or even imagine.
If you are looking for a place that will challenge you to grow both personally and professionally, I recommend the One-on-One Coaching programs facilitated by Njeri Muchunu. She is the Coach who has challenged my thinking and how I perceive life and for that I am forever grateful.