Recently, there have been many things that could cause anxiety or fear in our lives. Elections, for example,  took place in the United States last week. In the days and weeks prior, there was a lot of anxiety and fear as people used emotions to persuade voters. And, there was fear and anxiety among the people receiving these messages. 

On organizational fronts, the tech industry has been signaling staffing cuts and layoffs, ultimately triggering fear around jobs and income. Others are finding stability in their careers, but also experiencing anxiety and burnout as they cover staffing shortages resulting in resignations and slow (or no) hiring of replacement staff. 

Globally, we have continuous feedback from climate change resulting in major life disruptions due to the severity of storms, floods, and extreme heat. We have political tensions and war in Ukraine that further destabilize and challenge our sense of order and hope for peace. So, how do we stay resilient with all this free-floating fear and anxiety in our daily lives?

Next week the US is celebrating our annual Thanksgiving holiday. This tradition in the US and Canada celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Americans generally believe their Thanksgiving is modeled on a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists (Pilgrims) of Plymouth and the Wampanoag people. 

Lessons for Thanksgiving

I am reflecting on the power and benefit of taking time to give thanks for what is good in our lives. This thought brought me to Irving Berlin’s song Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep. Here are a few lines that speak to shifting our focus from worries to blessings.  

Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep Lyrics by Irving Berlin

“When I’m worried

And I can’t sleep

I count my blessings instead of sheep

And I fall asleep

Counting my blessings

 

When my bankroll

Is gettin’ small

I think of when

I had none at all

And I fall asleep

Counting my blessings

If you’re worried

And you can’t sleep

Just count your blessings instead of sheep

And you’ll fall asleep

Counting your blessings”

I have found that when anxiety or fear becomes top of mind, I shift my focus to the people I get to work with every single day. As a group, they are all working to make our world and community a stronger, more connected, and more resilient place. They are inspiring, focused, purpose-driven, and caring individuals. Sometimes, the news would have us believe that the world around us is filled with self-interested selfish people who only care for power and money. But my day-to-day experience belies that reality. 

So, when I am worried about the world around me and I can’t sleep, I focus on the relationships and the people I am privileged to work with in my consulting practice and I count my blessings that they are in my life and providing me with inspiration and hope for our collective future.

I believe that this focus on gratitude is our antidote for the fear that others are trying to spread in our lives! 

PS: Just for fun…