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Social enterprise Thankful is on a mission to make gratitude the norm.
Studies show gratitude is the character strength most predictive of well-being, and those who practice it are happier and less depressed. It can also support better quality sleep, mood, and feelings of connectedness.
In Brene Brown’s two decades of research into human emotions such as shame, fear, courage, and empathy, she saw that those who were able to lean into joy the most had one variable in common—they practiced gratitude.
The effect of gratitude comes from a dual response in areas of the brain that are stimulated when engaged in appreciation—regulating stress whilst at the same time producing pleasure.
Thankful’s unique business model essentially educates and encourages people to bring this practice into their daily lives, through “conscious reminders” to see what they already have in their lives. This includes a product line of clothing and accessories, as well as partnerships with brands to develop responsible products with the trademarked “Thankful” name.
In addition, Thankful runs social good campaigns to remind groups in need how valued and appreciated they are, and that regardless of what they are going through it does not define them. From women who are homeless and have been victims of violence, through to those battling life-threatening illnesses, veterans, and farmers in rural communities impacted by severe drought.
Founder, Kim McDonnell, started the organization a little over six years ago after noticing she’d spent most of her life focused on reaching the next goal and achievement without stopping to recognize what she’d already accomplished.
I, like many others, spent my 20s and 30s chasing the dream job and the perfect life. I would achieve my goals and then set another one. I believed that happiness and joy would result from reaching these goals. But I was so focused on the destination that I forgot to enjoy the journey. I forgot to celebrate what I had achieved, what I did have.
Kim wanted to remind herself to pay attention to what she already had. And, after becoming a mother her perspective started to change too. She wanted to know her children could celebrate their successes and see and value their strengths.
It was my five incredible children who taught and reminded me that each and every one of us is perfectly imperfect, that we all have strengths and weaknesses and rather than beating ourselves up about who we are not, we should be celebrating who we are.
Kim says the impact of such a dialogue is becoming contagious. She shared stories of those who have been impacted by Thankful’s mission so far, from people who in choosing to be thankful overcame their grief, through to reconnecting with estranged family members after deciding to tell them that, despite differences, how thankful they were.
Thankful are continuing to expand. They now have teams in the U.K. and Australia, in addition to their U.S. team, to develop local campaigns. And their Thankful4Women initiative, which was launched in the U.S., is now rolling out globally.
For anyone experiencing that same feeling of increasing pressure and stress, or that the challenges in their life feel overwhelming right now, Kim recommends there are many small ways to incorporate gratitude in your day.
She suggests making a “done list” instead of a to-do list and to even consider creating “thankful moments” for someone else, like buying the person behind you in the line their coffee.
All these moments create ripple effects not just in your life, but in others’ too. The more people who see gratitude as an intrinsic part of their lives, the more joy, health, and happiness the whole world gets to experience.
April 30, 2019 at 04:19PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs