Main image by Lina Trochez, Unsplash
Most of us experience challenges, crises, triumphs and success at some point over the years. Life throws us curveballs. Some are made of glass and hard to catch, some bounce off us and others seem to fall straight into our hands. These experiences are ‘gifts. How we catch (or drop) these gifts depends on our mindset, perspective, beliefs, experiences, values, and many other things.
Our biggest lessons come through embracing our challenges and successes. Positive psychology shows that 40% of our happiness is determined by how we think and act. When we adopt a ‘Gift Mindset’, we can approach situations in our lives with deeper self-awareness, viewing whatever we are faced with, good or bad, as an opportunity to progress.
The 2020 global pandemic is an example of a situation that both challenged us and provided opportunities to look at life differently. Gifts can come from both people and situations. They can be hidden in the past; sometimes they are sitting right under our nose. Sharing the lessons could be a survival guide for someone else and can create connection and learning.
If we choose not to learn from and share our gifts we risk robbing the world of our insights or, worse, contributing mindlessly to a world already heavy with distraction and clutter.
Never before have we lived in a such connected world, but at the same time been so disconnected. With the overload of technology, social media and people working remotely the Gift Mindset opens up the portal to connection, contribution and collaboration.
When we deepen our self-awareness and acceptance of an experience we can look at where our lessons sit and then deepen and develop any of these important 12 gifts or life skills. Let’s take a closer look at the 12 key gifts:
The 12 Gifts of a Gift Mindset
Optimism can underpin resilience and sometimes just believing that what you have is good enough can increase optimism. Surround yourself with optimists, smile and laugh and ask yourself “What makes me optimistic?”
Courage builds courage and layers upon itself and can transform fear, and even shame, into determination. Know your purpose, build a strong support network and know and align your values and self-belief to step out of your comfort zone and into your stretch zone.
Change is the only constant in life. It can be chosen or forced upon us. It can be the portal to growth, possibility and new direction. To deal with change, our why to change must exceed our why to stay the same. We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable by understanding the reason and benefit of the change.
Resilience results from a dynamic interaction between internal qualities and external experiences. It is a collection of skills that we can call upon when facing adversity, resilience can be built up. Develop supportive relationships, reframe the story and remember anything you have got through you can get through again.
Gratitude works by reinforcing the positives, no matter how small, and can come from both positive and negative experiences or people. This forces us to focus on what we do have opposed to what we don’t have. Journaling, showing appreciation to others and building an attitude of gratitude is key.
Deep self-connection is vital before we can forge and grow meaningful relationships with others. Self-care and self-growth can contribute to this. Building rapport with others, being present, communicating openly and adopting a curious mindset can deepen connection and lead to more intentional interactions and relationships.
Growth is a human need linked to contribution. When we grow, we can share what we have learnt and grow others. This in turn promotes further growth within us. Create habits around ways to contribute to your self-growth – create a reading habit, listen to podcasts, study, get a mentor and give and get value whenever you can.
Expressing and receiving empathy is vital in any interaction and relationship. Living the Gift of Empathy throughout our lives helps us to live from a place of understanding, care and empathetic connection. To ‘feel in’, imagine the other person’s view on the world, be aware of their emotions, imagine feeling what they are going through and pay attention.
Contribution can create a legacy that touches others. Contribute to self through wellbeing, self-growth, reading, and learning to say ‘no’. Contribute to your home team through acknowledging the good, being spontaneous, and creating and sharing meals together. Contribute to your work team by supporting others, sharing skills and giving your time. To contribute to your community volunteer, help spread a message, start a fundraiser or mentor someone who will benefit.
Living life as our full, energetic selves is vital to function at our highest level, both physically and mentally. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Be aware of when you feel most energised so you know when you are depleted. Live with purpose, do what lights you up, get out in nature and make the time to practise positive self-talk and gratitude and fuel up with good food and adequate sleep.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision and can take us from pain to peace. It doesn’t mean justifying another person’s actions or a situation. Living a life where we hold onto anger and resentment can negatively impact our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Identify and acknowledge the hurt, forgive yourself and change the story to see the gift of the situation to move forward.
Curiosity is a motivated desire for more information. It’s the engine that drives learning and achievement, and it’s almost like a state of arousal that needs to be provoked. Being curious requires us to ask questions of ourselves, situations and others. This helps us to grow and explore the things many of us sweep under the rug.
Adopting a Gift Mindset and building on and sharing your lessons through the 12 gifts can get you out of your own head and reinforces the gifts you have to share. It gives you the ability to grow others through your lessons and can assist you in progressing forward to deal with any positive or challenging experience you encounter in this thing called life.
Renée Giarrusso, author of Gift Mindset and Limitless leadership is a communication and leadership expert. She is a speaker, trainer, mentor and a professional coach (PCC) and works with leaders, teams and organisations to energise mindset and accelerate leadership and communication to lift performance and create collaborative and connected cultures.