Living in a Gratitude Bubble

Kathy Korman Frey teaches a Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Class at George Washington University that includes a mentoring experience for students with female business leaders in the DC community. I was honored to participate recently and work with Lindsay Jernigan. What an impressive young lady! (See her bio info at the end.)

Thinking back, I could have only hoped to have been as poised and prepared to start a career as she is. I asked her to write a blog post about how gratitude has been a part of her life and she agreed. Here is her contribution:

My friends always joke that I live in a bubble. An impenetrable protection that seems to follow me wherever I go. In fear of jinxing myself, I rarely speak of said bubble and only quietly acknowledge its existence each time I seem to have a turn of luck. A place where the bubble particularly comes in handy is when I travel. I have been lucky enough to many exciting places bound to present some precarious situations completely out of my control. I have recently done some thinking about this bubble of mine and tried to make some sense of it. What I have started to realize is that the bubble comes from a perspective of gratitude mixed in with a smile.

3 huge suitcases

Even without words, we connected through his act of kindness and my smiling face. He understood I was grateful.

I remember when I first arrived in Shanghai for my semester abroad. I was dropped in the middle of the financial district with three huge suitcases looking for my friend’s brother, who was supposed to meet me. With no familiar face in sight I was left on a curb unable to carry my bulging luggage. Out of nowhere a man appeared and quickly shuffled all of my things to the lobby of a hotel where I could wait comfortably. Not knowing one word of Chinese, I looked at the man and smiled thanking him repeatedly in English. I am not sure if the man truly understood the level of gratitude I was trying to express, but he understood that I was happy and grateful. Not being able to say one word to each other he and I connected through his act of kindness and my smiling face.

“Thank you” quickly became the first word I ever learned in Chinese. It is now a trend that in every new country I visit, I immediately learn how to say thank you. It’s a word you feel almost naked without knowing. It’s a word that can make those precarious situations a little less precarious. It’s the word that connects you with the culture and the people around you, because gratitude, even a simple thank you, transcends borders, languages, and any cultural norms.

As I start to embark on my own journey, I know that I will strive to keep gratitude a common theme along the way. Throughout all of my twists and turns I know I can always rely on a simple thank you and a smile to invite positivity into my life. It serves as the common ground between me and everyone else regardless of his or her background. It is how I connect with people all around me regardless of the circumstance. All of the sudden, I start to feel at home in the most foreign places, all thanks to my bubble of gratitude.

Lindsay is a Junior in the Elliot School of International Affairs at GW – majoring in international affairs. This summer she is interning at Barclay’s Capital in Hong Kong and has already traveled to more than 30 countries.  Of those countries, she has lived in Memphis, TN; London, England (for 10 years); and Shanghai, China (for a year). She also spent a year before college in Ecuador and Costa Rica.

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