Headlines from last week’s job report focus on America’s job creation and unemployment. Dig a little further into the report, and we also uncover perspectives on inflation – a word I haven’t considered in earnest since I was a little kid wearing bellbottoms and wondering why lines were so long at the gas station.
I confess that I have a rudimentary understanding of inflation, so I’ve been doing some research. And what I’ve discovered is this:
The problem with inflation isn’t just about the economy. At a deeper level, inflation is a social issue.
Reading a recent New York Times column by Neil Irwin* helped me see how inflation can drive us into a mindset of scarcity. From this perspective we begin to believe that there’s not enough. Not enough for me; not enough for you; not enough for anyone.
When we’re seeing life through the lens of lack, we begin to believe that our most basic needs –like safety, food or shelter – won’t be met. And inflation-induced worries edge out our desire for cooperation, connectedness, and respect.
This retreat into self-preservation can only fuel the divisiveness that we’ve seen in our politics and throughout the pandemic. It also puts further strain on teams navigating the workplace designed by Covid – whether it’s in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
But we don’t have to add inflation to the list of triggers for our shared woes. We can fortify our teams and even our social fabric. Although the knee-jerk reaction might be to cut and run, we can outwit inflation’s scarcity mindset with a simple hack: Gratitude.
This is not some Pollyanna blah-dee-blah.
Gratitude has proven mental, physical, and emotional benefits. Grateful people sleep better, are healthier, and live longer. They’re better able to manage stress and are more creative problem-solvers. They’re less lonely and isolated. They’re more optimistic and are less likely to be depressed.
All of this, and more, contributes to higher levels of resilience to deal with life on life’s terms. Grateful people are happier people, better teammates, and stronger leaders.
The magic is in what gratitude does for our connections with others. In the instant that we’re grateful, we acknowledge that we don’t do anything alone. We recognize our place in a larger dynamic – whether that’s a team, a company, or the universe. We become a part of – rather than apart from.
Gratitude’s gentle and persistent reminder of our interconnectedness banishes the illusion of self-sufficiency that feeds scarcity and undermines collaboration and teamwork. It cultivates peace, joy, and productivity. The strengthened interpersonal relationships brought on by gratitude fortify every group, organization, and family. That means increased impact and excellence – not to mention joy and meaning – in all areas of our lives.
Irwin writes, “Psychological effects of inflation appear to have the upper hand.” But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can outsmart the default reactions that would mire us in scarcity. We can turn on gratitude right now. Here’s how:
Just do it. And then keep doing it. Steep yourself in gratitude.
A simple act of appreciation can break us open to the cosmic fact of our inherent and absolutely essential connection with each other. Gratitude is an experiential recognition that we simply do not do life alone.
Inflation is real, as is the effect it can have on our economy and finances. These things need solutions. The psychology of inflation, though, is also real. And, for that, we have a solution in hand.
Whether we’re talking about the economy, the pandemic, the year-end scramble at work, or the stress of the holiday season, we need not pit ourselves against each other in a delusion that there is never enough. Instead we can look to each other with appreciation and keep on going.
The way forward is through, and the way through is together. Gratitude can lead the way.
Want to find out your own Gratitude style? Take my Quiz. It’ll give you a new twist on gratitude and some tips for better “gratituding.” It might also serve up a smile and a hankering for pie.
* You can read Neil Irwin's article here.
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