Practicing Gratitude as a Way Back

“Feeling grattitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” -Willam Arthur Ward

With age, we experience losses and everyday annoyances that can frustrate us or make us sad, angry, or even resentful. When things are going well in our lives, it can be relatively easy to express gratitude on a daily basis. Gratitude truly does come naturally, whether we express it outwardly or not. However, when things are not going so well, expressing gratitude can become more of a challenge. Adopting an attitude of gratitude means tackling the negative things and challenging ourselves to find ways to be grateful for them.

Feeling and expressing gratitude does not just make us smile inside; it also has a positive impact on our health. When people have higher levels of gratitude, they tend to be more socially connected, better able to handle stress, have lower levels of depression, better sleep quality, and stronger biomarkers such as higher rates of good cholesterol. All of these positives could help counteract the dangerous effects of loneliness, especially the loneliness that so many experienced during the pandemic. Practicing gratitude is a way back from the pandemic.

Practicing gratitude daily

  • Write thank-you notes to people who have made a difference in your life. The words thanks and think are directly related. When you thank someone, you are truly thinking of them.
  • Make a small gift for someone who has helped you out, whether it was recently or several years back. It’s never too late to show gratitude.
  • Do a random act of kindness for someone you don’t know.
  • Acknowledge the work of a colleague or a fellow volunteer.
  • Offer to help with a task that you know your friend, family member, neighbor, etc., does not like doing.
  • Donate your time to an organization you are thankful for and use that time to reconnect with others in your community.
  • Take a photo of something that makes you smile and send the photo to your loved ones explaining why the object makes you feel grateful. Ask them to share a photo with you of something that makes them feel grateful.
  • Similarly, share a positive or interesting news item with your loved ones explaining why the news item makes you feel grateful. Ask them to share positive news items with you that make them feel grateful.

Older women and a care worker embracing

Practicing gratitude in small ways reaps dividends over time. If you like the feeling that you get when you express gratitude to others, consider keeping a gratitude journal for yourself. A journal helps you watch your gifts accumulate over time which can be a source of both inspiration and solace in your life.

Gratitude grounds us in life and helps us to be mindful of our place and connections to others.  Feeling pandemic fatigue?  Find you way back through social activity and use gratitude as a way to reconnect.