Giving and Showing Thanks
by Monte Schwartz
Thanksgiving. Besides all of the turkey, football, and, yes, great deals at the mall, it is also a time when most people take a few moments to reflect on their many blessings.
Sadly, while the eating, sporting events, and shopping continue pretty much year round in some way shape or form, that proverbial “attitude of gratitude” is something that too many of us neglect or don’t think about often enough, save for that one day of the year.
Which is something of a minor mystery. Why is something that seemingly should be so easy in fact so difficult for too many of us? For whatever reason, perhaps human nature, we like to focus on the negative—complaining and finding fault rather than finding the positive. Grumbling must come easier and more naturally, and so we do it.
Make no mistake: this is not meant to be a pie in the sky, these people have no clue about reality type of article. We get it. Life is often difficult. According to Professor Robert Emmons, as quoted on the Mayo Clinic’s Alzheimer’s Blog, “To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great. It just means that we are aware of our blessings.”
“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” – William James
Research shows that gratitude can improve our physical, emotional, and psychological health. Our self-esteem increases, relationships improve, and we are better equipped to survive and overcome challenging times in our lives. It has also been associated with increased energy, optimism, empathy, and happiness.
Of course while there is nothing wrong with being grateful for all of the things in our lives, much of this discussion implies the benefits of being grateful for the people in our lives. The above quote from William James no doubt resonates with all of us. Deep down, we know that others crave appreciation just as surely as we do.
This includes children, spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. This includes pretty much everyone we might do business with or even brush up against during the course of the day. And, bringing the topic to the population we primarily serve, this certainly includes seniors.
The elderly in our communities far too often find themselves in a vulnerable position, be it financial, medical, or otherwise. Unfortunately, too many of them also find themselves marginalized and forgotten. This Thanksgiving, as we pause to reflect on the many things and people that we are grateful for, let’s not forget the seniors we are fortunate enough to have in our lives. More than that, let’s engage them and show them our appreciation.
We are with them, and the others in our lives, for a finite (and all too short) amount of time. Let’s make the most of every opportunity. As Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.”