It’s one week before Thanksgiving. Seven days until the official holiday season is upon us. It’s a time that typically marks thoughts of family traditions and meals; a time when we count our blessings and extend generosity.
Only it’s 2020 and this year isn’t like any other! COVID cases are spiking, travel plans are still on hold, and many are still working remotely. Only a couple of months ago, fires ravaged communities and hurricanes swept across parts of the country.
To quote Clark Griswold from the movie Christmas Vacation, “C’mon Ellen! Look around you! We’re at the gates of Hell!” We may be Clark, we maybe!
All joking aside, there’s much to be grateful for in 2020. And, there is no doubt, adopting an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can go a long way toward our overall health and happiness. Science and experience tell us gratitude increases contentment, improves mood and feelings of joy. It also reduces anxiety, enhances sleep, and our ability to connect with others.
“It is not happiness that brings gratitude. It is gratitude that brings happiness.”
So, I asked a few community college marketers known to have an ‘attitude for gratitude’, what they are thankful for in 2020? What are they doing to keep up their spirits this year?
Christine Payton, Communications and Marketing Director, at South Louisiana Community College in Lafayette, is appreciative of having a supportive team at work. “We truly work for the betterment of the college and each other,” says Christine.
She recalled an earlier time on her campus just after a merger. “We launched Thank You Thursdays. It was truly heart-warming to see employees recognizing each other week after week for good deeds – both big and small. Some gave cards, some gave flowers. It was terrific!”
Christine, who was evacuated several times during hurricane season this year, is also thankful for the health and happiness of her family. “We try to tackle issues head-on and with an eye for opportunity.” Christine’s husband, a constant source of support, reminds her to view her problems in a linear way instead of stacking them one on top of the other.
Jeff Ebbing, Director of Marketing and Communications, at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa, has “360 degrees of gratitude!” Jeff is grateful for a supportive president that places trust in him and his team. According to Jeff, that support and trust enable them to do their best work. His president invites marketing and communication to the table and looks to Jeff for input and perspective.
Like Christine, Jeff is also grateful to work with a team that, in his words, “follows me on crazy adventures in the marketing world as we try new tactics and explore novel ways to connect with students and prospects.”
Further west, Aimee Metcalf, Assistant Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, is grateful to work in the field of education and to be surrounded by colleagues that share the same passion. “It feels good that we’re all working together to help improve the lives of our students and provide them with opportunities they may have never imagined.” Aimee is also immensely grateful that COCC makes diversity and inclusion a priority.
On a more personal level, Aimee is thankful for her husband of nearly 30 years. “He still makes me laugh, and I look forward to him coming home every day. This has made quarantine days SO much easier and actually enjoyable.”
Both Jeff and Aimee enjoy getting outdoors for exercise in order to keep their spirits up – Jeff jogs with his four-legged companion, #mrfinntastic, and Aimee takes advantage of the nordic ski trails near her home. Christine lifted her spirits by putting up the family Christmas tree the day after Halloween. As she says, “It’s 2020 after all.”
It is 2020! Even during a pandemic, it doesn’t mean we can’t adopt an attitude of gratitude this holiday season and beyond. As author Robert Brault was quoted, “Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”