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My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 18, 2022

Total Force Wellness Column: Practice kindness, gratitude, and connectedness every day in 2022

By Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University

Editor's note: This column is written by the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University 

The birth of a child, the healing of a disease, or simply, gazing up at the stars—these are all experiences in life that help you understand that you’re part of the universe in ways much bigger than yourself. You may have this realization, however, amazing experiences and moments of transcendence can often get lost in the daily grind.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking life for granted or mindlessly rushing from task to task. The demands of daily life have a way of taking over and wearing you down. But what if you could see daily activities through a spiritual lens, rather than as things that get in the way, or as chores? Is it possible to experience deeper meaning in ordinary, everyday life?

Take a moment and consider the following list of tasks:

  • Grocery shopping and meal prep
  • Housework and yard work
  • Physical fitness
  • Guard duty
  • Changing diapers
  • Zeroing a weapon
  • Rush-hour traffic
  • Getting your kids ready for bed
  • Work

At first glance, none of these might seem particularly spiritual or even things you might look forward to. While the activity itself might not be important, it might have more to do with the way in which you carry it out, those who are impacted, and the memories you create along the way.

Appreciation is a window through which you can see riches in everyday life.

To see routines as spiritual can bring new meaning to your daily grind. It can help connect you to a greater sense of purpose in your everyday activities too. Try to show kindness and gratitude to help reframe these daily tasks and have more meaning and joy in your life.

Share kindness with others

During this year, you can develop a habit of practicing kindness by serving others or donating food, clothing, or money. Keep in mind that being kind to others doesn’t just help those you’re serving, it also helps you find joy, enjoy stronger relationships, and have better overall health.

The more you practice kindness, the easier it becomes and the more you gain. Try to share kindness in your everyday life despite it being near the start of this new year. Do random, small acts of kindness for others and reflect on the impact you’re making. For example, cutting your neighbor’s grass or shoveling their snow becomes more than just an extra chore added to an already busy schedule. It might be a way to bless and encourage someone going through a tough time. Hassles—such as cleaning dirty handprints off a door or picking up an endless stream of toys—can instead become a way to appreciate your toddler learning to explore the world. Even housework or picking up trash alongside a road can be an expression of care for what you’ve been given.

Connect with gratitude and awe

Although the holiday season has recently passed, still take the time to be grateful for what you’ve received, express gratitude to those who have helped you, and feel connected to others and the world. To experience awe helps you to focus more on serving the greater good and be happier. Similarly, regular practice of gratitude helps you develop a stronger connection with others, and it can strengthen your spirituality and humility.

You can connect with others and the world through awe and gratitude in your everyday life. For instance, you can connect with nature during a run. Or maybe push yourself out of your comfort zone to experience something new. You can also enhance your thankfulness by reflecting on what you’re grateful for during your commute to work or discussing best parts of the day at dinnertime. Or try to find other ways to grow your gratitude in your daily life.

The eyes of the heart are opened through gratefulness. Appreciation is a window through which you can see riches in everyday life. There’s a tendency to not fully realize something’s value until itis missing. A thankful heart transforms the ordinary and allows you to savor and cherish every day in a meaningful way.