Friday, April 3, 2009

Gratitude, Part 1

As I approach my twilight years (but I’m not too close yet), I want to age gracefully. Good health certainly makes that process easier, and I’ve tried to take care of myself, but the mental state is more important to me than the physical. I’ve been around elderly people who are grumpy, mean, and, at times, nasty. How do I avoid that?

I’m learning about gratitude. I read an article about the physical attributes of gratitude, how it actually improves a person’s health. Here is a quote from a DailyGood article I read in 2007: “. . . researchers have found that gratitude contributes powerfully to human health, happiness, and social connection.”

I’ve kept a journal for about fifteen years, off and on. About two years ago, after reading an article on the benefits of gratitude, I changed the slant of my journal and now call it my gratitude journal. It’s making a difference in my life. And now, in these tough economic times, its benefits are even greater.

I’m reminded of the twin boys who were alike in all ways except one was an optimist and one a pessimist. The father wanted to see if he could change the boys’ personalities, so he gave a room full of gifts to the pessimist, all the latest toys and gadgets, and a room full of manure to the optimist. The pessimist was elated, but after a short time sat and pouted. When his father asked him what was wrong, he said everything was nice, but he was certain the toys would break, and he’d be disappointed again.

When the father checked on the optimist, he found him joyfully digging around in the manure. When asked what he was doing, the optimist said that with all the manure lying around, he knew there had to be a pony in there somewhere.

With the economy failing—and yes, I’ve lost money, too—I want to be like the optimist. My pony is around here somewhere. I just need to keep digging.

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