By Amelia Ishikawa
I am a glass half full person, with a general sense of abundance. I thrive on connection to people, lots of people, and have crafted a career and a life that provides for plenty of meaningful interaction. More recently I’ve decided to make a career shift. It feels like a timely and important move for me, but it’s also been surprisingly challenging. I find myself falling very squarely into the ‘over qualified but under experienced’ basket. The skills are all there, my education and training check all the boxes and my willingness to try anything for the sake of gaining community sector experience alive and kicking, but still it’s proven to be a bumpy transition.
So, I’ve found myself – madam glass-half-full – feeling a little deflated and lacking my usual ‘everything is possible’ zest for life. As a trained career practitioner I’ve asked myself all the right questions, I’ve completed extra training, I’ve started volunteering like a fiend and had colleagues look over my applications and resume. Most people who are in this position can connect with the soul crushing deflation that accompanies numerous rejections, only eclipsed by the angsty silence following other applications.
Those of you who have been there, or who are currently there, will likely attest to the negative thought stream that starts to bubble up and eventually dominate a lot of airtime in your head. Sometimes you just want to howl burning and important questions (such as ‘WHYYYYYY!!!???’) at the moon.
A few weeks ago, in a moment of mindful contemplation, I realised that I have started to slip away from my ‘who.’ Spending so much time trying to convince others of my skills, expertise, abilities and achievements (my ‘what’) I had started to neglect my essence, the part of me that pre-exists all the rest of it, the part of me that can not be replicated by anyone else.
I started to ask myself how I could get it back, and I kept coming back to the idea of gratitude. One thing that seems to fly out the window pretty quickly during fruitless job hunting is a sense of gratitude.
My interest kindled, I started to investigate the relevancy of gratitude.
‘Is it really all that important?’
‘Does it actually make a difference?’
‘Can I be bothered?’
Thus began my exploration into the world of being thankful. I’ve been reading papers, articles and studies. I am happy to say that what I have discovered so far has confirmed what I intuitively suspected- that a general orientation towards gratitude is good for our overall sense of well-being – and furthermore, it’s not too complicated to cultivate.
In fact, I’m such a gratitude convert that I have added a gratitude practise to my evening wind-down routine. As suggested by a few findings, jotting down three things that I’m thankful for just before bedtime can greatly impact feelings of well-being. More importantly, it takes seconds to do, so it’s a very sustainable practise.
What are your thoughts about gratitude?
Does the word make you shudder in recollection of twee ‘gratitude journals’ you see in airports and the endless ‘#happy100days’ posts clogging up your newsfeed?
Maybe you’ve had an experience where counting your blessings was the only way you could get through a particularly difficult time in your life?