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Mindfulness and Gratitude in Times of Change

The last year, 2020, hit us like a tsunami, with an unexpected wave of changes and challenges. It taught us that nothing is ever the same, and change is once again the only constant. In times of change, mindfulness brings us the solidarity and peace that helps to center our existence.

Through mindfulness, the practice of present-centered, non-judgmental awareness of things as they are, we can awaken our inner self to recognize and accept things around us. With gratitude, kindness and compassion, we can change our existence to live more peacefully with the impermanence of life.

All of us deserve a little gratitude for what we’ve been through and what we’ve done.

Changing the Landscape of Industries

COVID-19 changed the landscape of many industries, as well as the government. The federal government is not historically known for its agility, flexibility or immediacy in adopting new ideas, but it had to transform quickly to ensure the safety of civil servants while continuing operations. Within days, agencies shed their physical buildings to implement a virtual work environment for employees and established automated systems to allow for effective communications across the nation. Credit for an agile government must go to the civil servants who found ways to continue providing essential and non-essential services in the face of a worldwide pandemic.

Changing the Government

Information technology (IT) teams across government agencies deserve much credit during the early days of COVID-19. Without any notice, IT teams had to implement virtual platforms, address bandwidth issues, simplify file-sharing options and boost security. All of these services played a significant role in the success of the federal employees’ teleworking options. For example, Internal Revenue Service employees continued processing federal tax returns and the U.S. Postal Service continued mail service. Employees from across the government seemed to adopt the Federal Aviation Administration motto, “It’s what you do, not where you do it.”

Over the past year, civil servants adjusted and learned new systems to ensure the continuity of operations without being physically in the office or in the field. Managers learned to lead from afar. Employees worked virtually and learned how to use online platforms such as Zoom and Skype to interact with colleagues and the public. Agencies converted instructor-led training courses into virtual offerings, found new ways to conduct audits, inspections, and investigations, and implemented new processes and procedures to ensure safety and security remained the No. 1 priority.

The federal workforce found ways to help sustain the economy. The Health and Human Services Department and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency scientists worked around the clock with the medical and scientific community to identify and approve a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysts kept the public informed of the rapidly evolving situation. Together, our workforce directly and indirectly helped instill calm and peace to pacify the fears of the unknown that COVID-19 brought with it.

Our civil servants contributed so much, and continue to do so. Yet, rarely do they receive their due accolades.

Challenge to Commit Actions

So, let’s commit to the following mindful actions as we move forward in our daily interactions. These will help us ensure that in rough waters, we can keep riding high and appreciate our accomplishments.

  • Let’s be mindful and gentle with ourselves in times of change.
  • Let’s practice being in the present.
  • Let’s practice a non-judgmental perspective.
  • Let’s practice kindness and compassion.
  • Let’s all be mindful, and grateful, to the people who have dedicated their careers to serving this country.
  • Reach out and thank someone you know in the government for the compassion, benevolence and positive changes they have given to our nation. They will be grateful that you did.

Thank you to all our civil servants for your dedicated service, collaboration, support, contribution and solidarity!

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected] And to read more from our Spring 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Aloha currently works at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Senior Technical Advisor to the Deputy Administrator. Her background is in aviation safety, international trade and transportation, small community air service development, data analysis, marketing and transit safety. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Transportation, Marketing and Business and a Master’s degree in International Marketing Management. Her goals are process efficiency, strategic planning and organizational culture of mindfulness.

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Profile Photo Aloha Ley

That is awesome Maddie, as they say…practice makes perfect, so keep perfecting that practice, it gets easier to be in the present moment and to practice gratitude the more you do it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Maddie!