During this season of thanksgiving, conversations tend to focus heavily on gratitude and the practice of being grateful. These often encourage us to turn inward in the pursuit of gratitude through meditation, journaling, and engaging in self-reflection. And while these methods are undeniably beneficial, they may not resonate with everyone and may prove too challenging for some. It’s not always easy to pinpoint positive aspects of our lives, especially when faced with adversity or stress (and let’s be honest…the holidays can be hella stressful!). And in our fast-paced world, finding the time and mental space to delve into one’s own thoughts and emotions can be overwhelming. By recognizing this challenge, we open the door to a different perspective – a shift from looking inward to embracing gratitude through intentional acts of kindness directed toward others. By showing kindness to others, we not only create a positive impact on the world around us but also cultivate a sense of gratitude that enriches our own lives.
Gratitude and Kindness: Feeling vs. Attitude
To understand the concept of practicing kindness to cultivate gratitude, it’s important to understand the difference between gratitude and kindness. Gratitude is often considered a feeling, an emotion that arises when we appreciate the positive aspects of our lives. It emerges when we take a moment to reflect on the good things we have experienced, the people who have touched our lives, and the circumstances that have brought us joy or growth. Depending on what is going on in your life, this can sometimes be a difficult emotion to uncover. Conversely, kindness is an attitude, a deliberate choice to act compassionately toward others. Kindness involves intentional actions that go beyond a momentary feeling—it’s a consistent way of approaching the world and interacting with those around us. Choosing to be kind is a proactive decision to contribute positively to the well-being of others, fostering an environment of understanding, support, and empathy. When we consciously choose to be kind, it becomes a vehicle for expressing and deepening our gratitude and makes this emotion more accessible.
Be Kind in the Grind – The Movement
A few years ago, I discovered the ability to cultivate gratitude firsthand when I chose to extend kindness to a colleague in a frustrating circumstance instead of getting angry. I was on my way to a coffee shop for a meeting when I received a cancellation email from the person I was driving to meet. I was frustrated and annoyed that I had spent the time and effort to drive across town to meet with someone who couldn’t even pick up the phone to have a conversation and let me know they needed to reschedule. But, instead of responding in anger, I took a deep breath, remembered how crazy my life was when I was just starting out and was trying desperately to keep all the balls in the air, chose to respond with empathy and grace. I replied to her email by thanking her for letting me know. In this moment, my passion project Be Kind in the Grind was born, and this mantra continues to drive my decisions and responses in everything I do.
The Transformative Power of Kindness
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding moments to express gratitude outwardly can be transformative. The mantra “Be Kind In The Grind” (BKITG) encourages us to incorporate kindness into our busy lives. Amid deadlines, responsibilities, and the chaos of our routines, taking a moment to extend kindness to others can be a powerful way to shift our focus from the challenges we face to the positive impact we can have on those around us. Start simply – pay attention to the people who come to mind throughout your day. Instead of dismissing these thoughts, view them as prompts for intentional acts. Why did a particular person pop into your head? Could it be a sign to check in on them, offer support, or simply express your appreciation for their presence in your life? Showing kindness can be as easy as sending someone a text or giving them a call when they pop into your thoughts. By choosing to check on them or send a kind word of support, you are making a deliberate effort to cultivate gratitude through your outward action.
Why Outward Gratitude Matters
Expressing gratitude outwardly is not just about being altruistic; it’s also a way to enhance your own well-being. Feedback from others and the act of helping those in need can be powerful sources of personal growth and satisfaction. When you extend a helping hand or receive positive feedback, it feeds your soul in ways that inward reflection alone might not achieve. By actively seeking opportunities to show kindness to others, you create a positive ripple effect. In the middle of your own grind, taking a moment to uplift someone else can be a source of inspiration and fulfillment and creates a cycle that goes beyond individual well-being, contributing to the formation of a more compassionate and interconnected community.
In the journey of gratitude, for those who find self-reflection challenging, the intentional practice of cultivating gratitude through kindness to others offers a meaningful alternative. By recognizing and acting upon the cues that prompt us to connect with those around us, we not only contribute to a culture of kindness but also discover a deeper sense of gratitude within ourselves. So, as you navigate your daily grind, remember to show kindness, create gratitude, and let the outward actions become a mirror reflecting the positive energy back into your own life.
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