2020: The Year of the Gratitude Mindset

Anna Madill
6 min readMar 10, 2021

Through darkness comes light. This year has gifted me with a renewed appreciation for all of the precious things in my life. While 2020 has challenged most of us at one point or another, it has also rekindled the beauty of small everyday things. There is hope and resilience in the air as we approach the New Year, and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

With the season of gratitude and giving upon us, I am grateful for the community of clients, partners, peers, advisors, team members, friends and family who have come together in support of one another, and for all of the inspiring work we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on that has allowed Avenue to grow and flourish. Suffice it to say, my gratitude list is much longer than even I could have imagined. And for that, I am also grateful.

I believe that 2020 has truly been ‘The Year of the Gratitude Mindset.’ In order to weather these trying times, being in the present moment and finding gratitude in what I already have, has enabled me to create an abundance mindset of hope and resilience that has led to growth and renewed inspiration for the future. This post reflects back on the many things I am grateful for, as well as the tools I have used to create a mindset of gratitude and abundance for 2020 and beyond.

Why be Grateful?

In a year that has been devastating to businesses of all types, staying grounded in all of the positive things in my life has kept me on track. Avenue noted strong growth despite the pandemic and has continued to build our core work and partnerships around what matters to us: Values, Action and Impact. Our 2020 Impact Report will be published in January to highlight the team’s work and impact over the course of the year (and you can also read our 2019 Impact Report here). I believe gratitude has played a large role in my own resilience and inspiration for the future.

The benefits of gratitude are also compelling:

  • Psychological benefits: positive emotions and thoughts enhance mood, being more aware and awake and increased self-satisfaction.
  • Physical benefits: stronger immune system, fewer body pains and aches, optimal blood pressure and cardiac functioning, better sleep-wake cycles.
  • Social benefits: better communication, more empathy, stronger interpersonal relationships, more involvement as a team member.

According to a study on the strength of Americans’ social networks, nearly one in five Americans (17%) reported having no one they were close with. While this is almost impossible to fathom, I have immense gratitude for my husband, family and friends during this time. Here are a few additional things I am grateful for this year, in no particular order:

  • My family, husband and son, Ian.
  • The health and safety of my loved ones.
  • Incredible childcare support through our family bubble (whom all live between two footsteps and two miles away from our home), including two sets of doting grandparents and my sister-in-law and her husband.
  • My parents for leaving a lifetime of memories behind in Seattle and moving to Portland to be closer to their grandson (and daughter and son-in-law!).
  • Our amazing clients and partners at Avenue.
  • The dedicated team at Avenue whose commitment and quality of work is truly rarefied air.
  • Being able to live my values every day through my work at Avenue, a Certified B Corporation®.
  • Business growth and purpose-driven work amidst a pandemic at Avenue, where we noted a 10% growth year-over-year and hit our 20% profit margin target.
  • More time at home with my son, Ian as he grows up.
  • Delicious, healthy home-cooked meals by yours truly and my husband.
  • Bi-monthly half marathons in Forest Park and weekly runs in nature.
  • The warmth and safety of our home.
  • Lovely tenants in our rental property.
  • My tribe of entrepreneurs in EO Portland Accelerator.
  • The B Corp community of entrepreneurs, business leaders and partners who are doing meaningful work that inspires me.
  • Avenue’s Advisory Board.
  • More time at home with our dog.
  • No commute, using less gas and being more environmentally friendly.
  • More downtime to read, as I’ve read 53 books this year, which is one book over my goal of 52 for 2020!

By cultivating a gratitude mindset, I have been able to improve my perspective and appreciation for everything I have in my life, which has helped me to experience deeper levels of growth, happiness, positivity and joy.

What is a Gratitude Mindset?

A gratitude mindset is the ability to focus intentionally on the positive things and the limitless opportunities available in the present (which for me is in business at Avenue and my personal life), where I strive to appreciate what I already have.

I have found that a gratitude mindset can unlock the potential for abundance, growth and joy, including:

  • Resilience through challenging times.
  • Increasing the feeling and reality of hope, safety and wellbeing in life.
  • Strengthening everything that is important by narrowing focus on what matters most and expanding appreciation for the people in my life.
  • Creating an abundance mindset, which is a belief that there are enough resources and success in the world to share with others. When I am grateful for what I have, I fuel my abundance mindset, which in turn creates more abundance to be grateful for.
  • Negating limiting beliefs, which are unconscious beliefs about ourselves and the world which often prevent us from enjoying our lives to the fullest.

How to Develop a Gratitude Mindset

Throughout 2020, there have been many positive changes, learnings and growth that have fueled my mindset of gratitude. And as part of my active process to incorporate gratitude into my daily life, I’ve referred back to a tool from a book I read in 2017, “Start Here” by Nate Klemp, Ph.D. and Eric Langshur (also a tool I referenced in my article on the work of Dismantling White Supremacy Culture in the Workplace). The Notice, Shift and Rewire (NSR) tool requires developing a moment-to-moment habit of attention. Beginning to Notice and name our habits and tendencies brings choice in where we can make a change. Shifting brings about change and action. And Rewiring brings lasting neurological integration.

Here are some of the daily touchpoints that the NSR tool has enabled me to notice, shift and rewire my perspective around gratitude:

Taking the time to Notice things I’m grateful for. For example:

  • Morning walks in the neighborhood with my husband, son and dog where we share one thing we’re grateful for with each other.
  • Reflection and active mediation during morning runs and bi-monthly half marathons in Forest Park (nature!).
  • Putting away my phone in the designated ‘phone box’ during the day so that it’s only used sparingly for calls and texts has opened up time to be mindfully present with my son Ian as he grows (born in the middle of a pandemic and now seven months old!).
  • Slowing down and reading real books or my Kindle vs. using my phone or device, which opens up space to be grateful for what I have in the present moment.

Making a Shift to intentionally hold space for appreciation and gratitude for those things. For example:

  • Daily huddle with the team at Avenue where we kick-off our workday by sharing one thing we’re grateful for with the team.
  • Celebrating the wins and successes (big and small) that we’ve had at Avenue to capture how we’re creating a durable, profitable and meaningful business despite the craziness of 2020.
  • Sharing ‘silver linings’ amongst the team on a weekly basis at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sustaining ongoing conversations to Rewire my thought process and actions around gratitude. For example:

  • Keeping Avenue’s core values (and our personal family core values that my husband and I share) front and center in all conversations and actions.
  • Weekly 15Five high fives and recognition to show appreciation for team members.
  • Slack messages of support amongst the team.
  • Team activities to boost morale during the pandemic.
  • Appreciating what we have and giving back to nonprofits and BIPOC businesses in our community through ongoing business advising, mentorship and digital marketing consulting.
  • Supporting and lending a hand to organizations who are doing great work for the community by working alongside smart, talented and inspiring individuals to solve hard problems and tackle new challenges that will support shared prosperity for the City of Portland and the State of Oregon.

In wrapping up 2020 and ‘The Year of the Gratitude Mindset’ (of which the mindset will carry on to 2021 and beyond), I am grateful for the ability to share in this journey of gratitude with others and to be reminded that more is not always better. Sometimes what we already have is enough.

What is one thing you’re grateful for today?

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Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.



Anna Madill

CEO of Avenue, a B Corp digital marketing agency that amplifies the impact growth-minded and purpose-driven companies have in the world.