A Season of Gratitude and Grace

Contributed by Jennifer Dunleavy

24 Nov A Season of Gratitude and Grace

Thanksgiving3

This time of year is a favorite for many – it is a time to celebrate all of the reasons we have to be grateful. Nevertheless, gratitude becomes a more powerful force in our lives when it is practiced regularly. Gratitude, by definition, is the quality of being thankful, and one’s readiness to show appreciation or return kindness to another. Gratitude increases our own happiness and fulfillment. “The power of gratitude is not only one of the fastest ways to raise the level of happiness, it literally transforms your health,” says Shawn Achor, positive psychologist and CEO of Good Think, Inc. In his renowned Ted Talk, Achor discusses how gratitude can be used daily to invigorate our work. Our fulfillment quickly becomes contagious and spreads to those around us.

Expressing gratitude every day does not require much effort. However, it does take commitment. For me, gratitude has become a way of life through journaling. In 2012, I downloaded a smartphone app called “Gratitude Journal,” which reminds me every day to write why I am grateful. I usually find myself jotting down a few notes at the end of each day. It is amazing to look back over the entries, which now number into the hundreds, and reflect on all of the reasons I have to be grateful. As I look back, I see how positively my life has changed, the lessons I’ve learned, and how the people around me enrich my life. Even on a tough day, I can look back and see the progress I’ve made. The process of gratitude journaling has changed my life, my perspective and my relationships. As a leader, I can also see how it has positively impacted our company and business performance. Achor’s suggestions also include expressing gratitude through random acts of kindness, as well as using exercise and meditation to keep our minds and bodies healthy.

This season also reminds us to celebrate grace. Different from gratitude, grace is the unconditional love and mercy we receive through our faith and connection with the Divine. Grace is not deserved or earned. It is freely given to each of us. Our awareness of grace heightens during the holiday season as we are reminded to celebrate the blessings of salvation. With grace, though, comes responsibility. As we receive grace freely, we are expected to give it freely as well.

One of the ways we can show grace to others is through service. Serving the needs of others allows us to demonstrate our appreciation for the grace we have received. Taking time to serve others – whether it is a day or hour of service – puts our values, faith and grace to work. It leaves something of value for others to enjoy. At Accuro, we volunteer at a local soup kitchen several times a year. It is a special privilege to serve others in our community with our team. Recently, I learned my own lesson in grace during one of our service days. I was serving at the soup kitchen when I recognized someone who came through the serving line. His name is James and he was hired by our moving company a year earlier to move my family into our dream home. I instantly recognized him and remembered complaining to him during the move about scratching a wall in our new home. I felt badly about how I had spoken to James that day – I was quite snappy. I have often reflected on that moment and wished I had handled it more appropriately. Here I was, a year later, serving him. His smile was just as big and his giggle was still infectious. James was happy in the present moment and grateful for being served a hot meal. I felt a great sense of honor in serving him. Moments later, another guest came through the serving line wearing a sweatshirt of my husband’s that we had donated prior to our move. Having just seen James, this new encounter also surprised me and tears began to well up. It reminded me of the saying, “to those whom much is given, much is expected.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the lesson in grace and the privilege of being a blessing to others.

Grace is about more than faith and salvation. Grace is receiving unconditional love, and then giving the same measure to others. It involves how we treat other people, including those we don’t know. Practicing forgiveness, speaking positive or uplifting words, and showing acceptance of all people allows us to demonstrate grace in our daily activities. It also allows us to reflect our values. This season and the coming year will offer many opportunities to embody grace in our interactions and activities with others.

This season, I am grateful for my husband, John, our family and our work family, the Accuro team. Our team is hands down the best team in recruitment and they create the “magic” in helping our clients and professionals succeed together. After twelve years in business, I am also grateful that 2015 has been our most successful year thus far. There are many more reasons to be thankful and I look forward to celebrating these with my family and work family in the weeks to come.

On behalf of the Accuro team, we wish you and your families a wonderful season filled with love, joy, laughter and grace.

Marlese McLaughlin
marlese@accurogroup.com