I have every reason to be grateful for my life; maybe you do, too. Today I want to focus again on how, as an older adult, we may be especially suited to be one-person gratitude powerhouses—making “thank-you” one of our mantras for living fully.
While you’re reading this blog, let your imagination roam to all the places where you experience thanks-worthy actions, relationships, favors and kindnesses. This will help you find inside yourself your own attitude-of-gratitude, and make gratitude a natural part of every day.
Because you’re an older adult, your thankfulness might be especially well-received, appreciated and taken to heart. You’ve been through a lot in your life—including difficulties—so in the specific moment you offer thanks, you bring all those years of wisdom as part of the experience. To say that another way, your feelings may carry extra oomph because you’re older!
As an oldster, you may encounter all sorts of people who deserve a thank-you, but who may not always hear or experience a lot of gratitude. Consider how you might bring your written or face-to-face appreciation to:
• People who take care of your medical needs—doctors, nurses, EMT’s, receptionists, phlebotomists, technicians or therapists.
• Folks who keep track of your well-being—professional caregivers, neighbors, members of your church, relatives, e-mail correspondents, leaders in fitness classes, volunteer visitors or former colleagues.
• Workers who may get taken for granted—people who keep offices and businesses clean and in good repair, bus/taxi drivers, mail carriers, office administrators, phone operators, lawn maintenance workers or bank tellers.
• People who might seem invisible—meter readers, newspaper deliverers or snowplow operators.
• Men and women who work with their hands—plumbers, appliance repairmen, carpenters, inspectors, ditch diggers, dog-groomers, trash collectors or hairdressers.
• People who rarely get thanked—politicians, government workers or police officers.
When you thank them in person—looking them in the eye and smiling—you give them a gift that might last an entire day or week. (And when you put your thanks into writing, think how that smile and one-on-one presence could come across in words.) Your gratitude might encourage them in their roles when the going gets tough. Your words could counter much of the inattention or criticism they face. And your kindness will be an example of the best in the human spirit—something they can emulate.
Gratitude is health-giving; it can spread throughout society like pieces of dappled sunshine at the start of a summer morning. Your well-seasoned gratitude could warm the spirits of countless people around you. You could think of it as a special ministry that you’re especially well-suited for!
Several months ago I wrote a blog, “A Thanks Ministry”, about how you might develop a congregational ministry centered on purposeful expressions of gratitude. I offered readers a how-to piece, “Ideas for a Thanks Ministry”—a set of suggestions about how to begin and maintain such a program. That offer is still on the table, still in my computer and still waiting for your request. Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and see what happens!
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