[GUEST BLOG] Is your Association Thankful or Grateful?

thankful & grateful with floral trim

By Holly Duckworth

It was almost one year ago, December 8, 2020, when I spent the entire day looking for a 2021 wall calendar. Every store was sold out. It was not even Christmas yet. As most of us can relate, my family was ready to be done with 2020 way before it was time to flip the calendar to 2021. Remember how we were all joking that 2021 would be the “big one”?

As fall is upon us, I am thrilled to remember all the moments of this year that were filled with kindness. Considering all the 2020 blunders, people seemed a little nicer in 2021. While at times it was a bit awkward trying to navigate the new normal, I remember a woman at the mall trying to both social distance and hold the door open for me. This small gesture would have totally gone unnoticed in pre-pandemic life, but now, it meant so much to me. I felt thankful.

Popular culture says we should keep a gratitude journal to note the times when we feel grateful. Have you considered that your association may want to keep a gratitude journal? They say when keeping this practice, what you are grateful for increases. What do you want to increase in your association?  People like to call me a trailblazer, as I tend to buck the trend and put my own spin on things. I want to share with you what I am doing this year. I am keeping a thankfulness log personally, and another for my company. Thankfulness is an adjective, a word that describes something. Gratitude is a noun, a quality something has. Now, suddenly, those hours of homeschooling for friend’s kids seems like it had value. Smiles.

I never found that 2021 wall calendar. As an alternate plan, I started a running log of times when I felt thankful. I keep the lists on my desktop and accessible by my cell phone so that at any moment I can log when I feel thankful. Every Friday before I leave my office, I make sure to open the list and log the times I felt thankful. Now, ten months into the year, I am reviewing the lists. On my personal list, I see things like riding the gondola up to the top of Keystone—in the fourth worst snowstorm in Colorado history—to officiate the wedding of Laura and John. For this experience, I feel thankful. On my business gratitude list, I have my first in-person keynote with a new client and the tradeshow where I hosted executives in focus and productivity with mindfulness experiences.

As I reminisce on this rather unusual year of openings, closings, beginnings, and endings, I am struck by how much the little interactions between people mattered just a little more. A key talking point of 2021 is mental health. A somewhat taboo topic for past generations is now mainstream. The lessons we will learn from one another will make our world more mindful.

One key to better mental health is being fully engaged in our emotions and feeling in our bodies. Take time this year to ask: What am I feeling thankful for personally and professionally?  Find a way that works for you to document it. This mindful practice will make you and your association become more grateful. 

What action will I take to demonstrate my gratitude? I am holding open more doors, donating more money, and performing more random acts of kindness. I provide free Everyday Mindfulness reset meditation twice a week on Insight Timer. From the infinite wellspring of feeling good, I build a mental mindset of health, wellness, and wholeness. This expands into my company, resulting in more positive contracts, projects, and relationships.

You still have some time left in 2021 to make it the “big one”. Each day this fall and winter, make a choice to be both thankful and grateful and watch your life and association continue to become more positive. Drop me a note and let me know what makes you feel thankful and what action did you take to be grateful?

Back in February, GrowthZone released our 2021 Association Industry Survey results and shared some optimistic words of wisdom from respondents. Read Words of Encouragement for Association Executives and Staff.

Holly Duckworth, CAE, CMP, CWMF, is CEO of Leadership Solutions International where she unleashes human potential through mindfulness techniques.  As a teacher, author, and Certified Workplace Mindfulness Facilitator Holly’s work transforms business culture, customer experiences and offers personal success strategies. Holly is a New York Times contributor, host/producer of The Everyday Mindfulness Show. In 2021 Holly co-founded the American Mindfulness Association as the professional association to advance mindfulness as a strategic business practice.  Invite Holly to speak at an upcoming conference or workshop. 

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