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Project Gratitude: Driving Engagement and Inspiration

Project Gratitude: Driving Engagement and Inspiration

With the holiday season around the corner, many of us have gratitude on our minds. To Annie Klassen, a Vendor Recovery Specialist at Jacksonville’s Quality Engineering Management Center, finding gratitude is an everyday act.

Annie began the Project Gratitude group on the social intranet so every MBUSA location can connect with and inspire each other. Her page incentivizes employees to share what they appreciate about their leaders and other ways to create meaningful connections.

Read more below about Annie’s journey within MBUSA and her decision to make Project Gratitude a reality.

Can you tell us about your career at Mercedes-Benz?

I began my MBUSA career in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2015 and moved to Jacksonville in 2018 as a Vendor Recovery Specialist for the Quality Engineering Management Center.

Where did you get the idea for Project Gratitude?

Not that long ago, I stopped to take a good look at my work life. I wasn’t as happy as I could have been, and I decided to do something about it. I started a 30-day gratitude challenge on January 1 to see what, if any, changes I would experience. At the end of the month, I felt happier, was smiling more and many of my co-workers kept asking me what I was doing. I thought to myself, wow, there is something to this!

A year later, I became a yoga instructor and subsequently became certified as a meditation teacher. After meditating regularly, I noticed even more changes. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace, gratitude and connection in a way I had never before. I wanted to share this with everyone!

I then started gratitude and mindfulness workshops in Tuscaloosa and couldn’t believe the positive response. When I moved to Jacksonville, I got the idea to start the Project Gratitude site to continue to connect with others.

Once you created the group, how did you drive employees to the site?

Many employees on the site are people I know personally. Truthfully, I don’t know how many members found it, but I am so glad they did!

What would you like employees to know about Project Gratitude?

Project Gratitude is about giving us tools we can use or inspiration we can share to stimulate positive thinking and a more positive work environment. It is really driven by living a life by design, rather than by default. I also do this through my workshops and one-on-one “Life by Design” coaching sessions.

Do you have any long-term goals for the group?

I would love to see the site increase its subscribers and become more interactive. I plan on starting weekly posts based on my 12-week coaching program. I would love to visit different locations and bring Project Gratitude in person to connect and inspire each location.

How have you impacted others through Project Gratitude? What feedback have you received?

Most of the feedback I get is from my workshops and related to the meditation. People can’t believe how quickly they were able to get into such a relaxed state, while others were amazed they were able to do it at all. I have had many conversations with people who share their personal stories with me, which is such a gift – I love the vulnerability, courage and real connection. I often walk into the office in the morning and open my email to someone sending me an inspiring video or quote that they read, which I love!  People have also shared with me some new habits they started, such as a gratitude journal.

Can you tell us more about how you facilitate Gratitude and Mindfulness workshops?

My gratitude and mindfulness workshops focus on tools that have helped me get through some tough circumstances. I share my personal story as well as specific exercises people can do themselves. I end every session with a Yoga Nidra meditation.

Going into the holiday seasons, what kind of gratitude activities/exercises do you have in mind for work, friends or family?

I love the idea of starting a gratitude jar at home where you and your family can write down what you’re grateful for and why you are grateful for each other. Then, you can read them together at the beginning of the year.

What books or videos do you suggest for someone who wants to improve their wellbeing?

The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle and A Mind of Your Own by Kelly Brogan, MD

What quote has resonated with you lately? 

“Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.” – Henry David Thoreau

Feel inspired? Join the public group, Project Gratitude, and share how consciously practicing daily gratitude is positively affecting your work and personal life.

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