Unlikely Gratitude: Finding the opportunity for growth in an otherwise, mundane, annoying, or horrible situation.

For example: A few weeks ago, we met Leslie, a people-pleaser yoga teacher, and her Sandpaper Person, a difficult-to-please yoga student. Leslie’s unlikely gratitude was for the mismatch in her own and her student’s dispositions. Because of her student, Leslie is learning how to find worth in herself outside of her student’s approval of her. She takes this challenging situation as an opportunity to grow.




Illuminate: Cultivate Your Growth Mindset with Unlikely Gratitude

Have you heard of a “Growth Mindset”?
In education circles, a growth mindset is defined as the student’s belief that intelligence can be developed through hard work, effective strategies, and support from others. The opposite would be a fixed mindset: When a student believes that, if he’s not born with intelligence, he will never be smart. Research study after research study proves the value of a student with a growth mindset; in one study of nearly 170,000 students, those with a growth mindset were three times more likely to score high on an achievement test than students with a fixed mindset.
But the value of the growth mindset doesn’t end with the academic achievements of children.
All of us could triple our likelihood for success, however you choose to define it, by cultivating a growth mindset. We cultivate this much the same way children do– by believing that our skills are not fixed. That with hard work, effective strategies, and help from others, we, too, can grow through any challenge. One of the effective strategies for cultivating a grown-up growth mindset is called “Unlikely Gratitude.”
An example of Unlikely Gratitude: My friend, Alea, lives with anxiety. Right now, she finds herself in a time of a lot of uncertainty. This uncertainty understandably heightens her anxiety, and she decided to identify the Unlikely Gratitude of her situation: Because her anxiety is heightened, she has more ground to better understand it. She’s using this opportunity to reach out to a therapist, put more of her attention toward mitigating her anxiety, and find new strategies for working with her anxiety. 

Next, you will cultivate your growth mindset by identifying the Unlikely Gratitude in your own challenging situation.

What is your Unlikely Gratitude? Three steps to cultivating a Growth Mindset:
1: Find a piece of paper + pen.
2: Identify a challenging situation you are currently facing. If you are stuck, you could think of one that leaves you feeling hopeless or intimidated.
3: What is the unlikely gratitude in your situation? Pose this question to yourself: This situation is perfectly crafted for your unique growth. How? What are your bigger goals in life, and how could this situation serve as rungs on a ladder toward those goals?

Simply identifying your Unlikely Gratitude cultivates a growth mindset. If you’d like to explore the application of your Unlikely Gratitude even further, read on…


Now that you’ve identified your Unlikely Gratitude, you may want to consider taking it further. How might you identify further effective strategies and others who could help you? How might you motivate yourself to work harder?

Cultivating a growth mindset takes time and effort. How might you remember to identify an ‘Unlikely Gratitude’ for an upcoming challenging situation?

Next week, in the United States, is the holiday of Thanksgiving. This means you get to look forward to another gratitude-themed Illuminate in which you will practice cultivating + sharing gratitude. See you next week!

PS- While writing this, something happened with my computer and I lost half the text! I had to laugh– what an Unlikely Gratitude to practice patience… ?

Illuminate is a weekly e-mail series that provides practical tips + galvanizing inspirations for practicing an emotionally intelligent life. In our time together, we’ll operate from the assumption that you have all the wisdom you need inside of yourself + that you have a purpose the world needs to see. We will explore the tools + techniques to illuminate your own inner wisdom and purpose. If you’d like to receive this free gift of goodness in your inbox every week, subscribe here.

Maria Jackson
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