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How to Show Gratitude this Holiday Season Despite the Crisis

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November marks the beginning of the holiday season. While December is all about giving, November is about gratitude. However, as I write this, our world is surging with the COVID-19 virus, leaving many of us panicked, anxious, and unsure if we’ll be able to celebrate the upcoming holidays and for many, not feeling very grateful anyway. Many are asking, Will this ever end or will this end us? What will our holidays look like this year? Should we cancel our traditional Thanksgiving family get together? Turkey on zoom just isn’t the same.

Here’s the deal. The crisis is real and will change many of our traditional holiday plans. However, different can be just as good IF you want it to be.

My hope is that these 5 quotes about gratitude fill you with a sense of gratitude, appreciation, and hope that no matter what happens in our external worlds, we have a choice in how we show up every day.

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.~Albert Schweitzer

In my keynote, Celebrate Nursing: Human by Birth – Hero by Choice, I talk about finding the beauty in others (It’s my Sephora ‘beautiful’ story). That even in the “ugliest” person, there is beauty and sometimes, all they need is for someone to reach down deep, find their beauty, and pull it out.

Although this quote focuses on expressing gratitude to others who have rekindled a spark in ourselves, I want you to flip it – be that spark for someone else.

Now, more than ever, we need to find the beauty in the people we spend our days with, especially at work.

Each day you work, find just one person and tell them something you appreciate about them.

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. ~Karl Barth

A little over 2 years ago now, my oldest daughter Kaitlin gave birth to my first grandchild, Olivia Lauren Hicks. At the time, I experienced more joy than I’ve ever experienced in my life.  This little girl continued to bring me joy, although this year, because of COVID, the joy is more often experienced via pictures, videos, and zoom chats with Nonnie and Pap. Our lives have been disrupted like never before, but you can still find joy.

I encourage you to find that feeling of insurmountable joy whether it’s from a tiny human, furry pet, elderly parent, etc.

Find something right now that makes you feel joy. Doing so can make all the difference in how you show up every day despite a global pandemic or other crisis.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.~Eckhart Tolle

When COVID-19 hit, some people didn’t believe it was real while others started filling up their “bunkers”; bracing themselves for the end of the world. Tragedies happen and we’ve certainly seen our share this year (pandemic, fires, hurricanes, social injustice, etc.), however, there is still goodness.

Cruelty and crisis can happen anytime, anywhere; even in our own backyards.

In one of my favorite movies, Where the Heart Is, Natalie Portman’s character, Novelle, tries to comfort her friend after her and her children were viciously attacked. Her friend asks Novelle, “What do I say to my children [about the cruelty in the world]…”

Novelle’s response…

“You tell them that our lives can change with every breath we take… and tell ’em to hold on like hell to what they’ve got: each other, and a mother who would die for them and almost did… You tell them we’ve all got meanness in us, but we’ve got goodness too. And the only thing worth living for is the good. And that’s why we’ve got to make sure we pass it on.”

What Natalie Portman’s character says is exactly what I’m saying to you, and what this quote by Eckhart Tolle is implying.  We each have a choice to make when tragedy finds us – spend our time and energy focused on what’s wrong in this world or focus on the goodness. I choose goodness and hope you do too.

Every day, take a few moments to name 3 good things in your life.

You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As a workplace bullying expert, I’ve seen and heard my share of cruelty. Why oh why are healthcare professionals so caring and compassionate to their patients but cruel to each other? It makes no sense!! To counteract the cruelty in healthcare, in October 2018, I launched a Kindness Campaign. Kindness has always been one of my core values and a primary reason why I decided to go down the rabbit hole into workplace bullying and incivility. I just couldn’t sit back and ignore the badness I was seeing.

I’m inviting you to get involved in spreading kindness. Because like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, it’s never too soon.

Make kindness a habit by starting a kindness revolution in your department.

No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.~Alfred North Whitehead

The people we surround ourselves will influence us. So, stop spending your time with people who complain constantly, who are greedy and selfish, and who go out of their way to bring others down.  Instead, spend more time with the people who act as your own personal cheerleaders, who build you up, who go out of their way to support you and who talk about positive things.

Who can you support and help today? Who has helped you in the past? Acknowledge anyone who has played a role in your success.

Think of the people in your life who have helped you. Contact them and tell them how grateful you are for them.

Express gratitude this year despite the badness

Perhaps it’s because we’re nurses and know how precious life is that we recognize that while material things are nice, we realize that it’s the humans in our lives – not the stuff that matters most.

I’m grateful to have met and married the most amazing human – my husband, Ashley. He reminds me that there’s nothing more important in life than serving others.  

I’m thankful for raising two daughters, Kaitlin and Courtney who are beautiful inside and out. They are kind, love to make me laugh and remind me to always find a way to be silly. 

… our grandbaby Olivia who gives me the opportunity to be Nonnie.

…my mom who when I visit (she lives in California) makes me creamy macaroni and cheese, makes sure she has a few bottles of my favorite wine (Coppola Claret) and even crochets me a poncho from time to time.

…my dad who keeps me in line (recently told me that I had a shelf life and that I needed to slow down!), reminds me of the importance of family and to always do the right thing – no matter what.

…my besties  – Kimmy and Dina, who love me unconditionally and who are Olivia’s “Grammies” too!!

…the team at The Healthy Workforce Institute who keeps me growing.  Ashley, Bobbie, Laura, Dee, Courtney, Bonnie, Diane, and Mitch. You all totally rock!

… all the great nurses whom I’ve met over the years. Nurses who inspire others through their service and sacrifice. Nurses who demonstrate strength and courage during life and death situations. Nurses who while saving someone’s life with one hand uses the other to comfort someone in need. Nurses who come into work every day KNOWING that they have to make decisions based on what’s best for patients, not themselves.

COVID-19 has definitely changed how we will celebrate the holidays, and this year will be, without a doubt – different. However, what the virus can’t take away is the appreciation, gratitude, kindness, and joy we have for each other.


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The Healthy Workforce Institute is the global leader in addressing disruptive behavior in healthcare. Through our cadre of services, we provide the strategies, skills, and solutions to address any incidences of disruptive behaviors that show up in healthcare.

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