Over the next 2 weeks, I will be exploring the principles of mental strength. I will be exploring the characteristics that strong people exhibit and ways in which you can cultivate them in your own life.
Characteristic #1 - Strong People Give Thanks
Social distancing, work disruptions, schools closed and a sense that more disruption is coming is our Monday morning. We have so many questions about the Coronavirus today and what this means for our world in the future.
Self-pity is easy to embrace. It is not difficult to find reasons to feel sorry for ourselves. We are experiencing real losses, big and small.
Jim Ryan, the President of the University of Virginia and my undergraduate school, posted a beautiful letter in light of this disruption. He put words to the feeling that many in the community are feeling, death. “No matter how much we know this is the right thing to do, that we will work through this, and that we will emerge even stronger than we are—this is a loss. A real one, and in many cases a painful one.”
I really respect his letter because he is not practicing self-pity. Rather, he is creating space for people to grieve. Grieving is an important part of giving thanks. When we experience loss we can focus on what we no longer have. As a result we focus our energy on the negative, or what is missing in our life, rather than on the positive, or all of those wonderful things we still have.
Grieving creates space for us to give thanks for what we experienced, all we treasured, and what now will be missed. We are experiencing pain in loss because we enjoyed something precious and beautiful, something we must now release. Grieving is the practice of giving thanks for the goodness we shared.
Practicing thankfulness helps us to see the light and to embrace the good. Giving thanks intentionally forces us out of revolving around negativity to see where light is shining. Mentally strong people name the loss and grieve. As a part of grieving they name the good, shine the light, and give thanks for what was shared.
What are ways in which you can cultivate gratitude in your daily life? Keep a thankfulness journal, write a note to a colleague, share what you are grateful for over dinner with your friends or family, express your gratitude to a co-worker when unexpected.
Mentally strong people are thankful people. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, be honest about your pain while focusing on the good.
This series of posts is inspired by the book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, by Amy Morin.