On Being Thankful

It occurred to me recently that “Being Thankful for what I have” is very important in my life. I have been fortunate and realize that being grateful and appreciative of my successes is one of the main reasons for my good fortune and happiness. I look forward for the opportunities of being able to say “Thank You” to someone, every day of my life. A simple “Thank You” can make other people feel good but it also makes me feel good.
Look around you. No matter who you are, there is something to be thankful for. A roof over your head or the food in your fridge or your family and friends. Each of these are truly gifts. Every day that you are in good health, every day that you get to go to work, every day you get to drink clean water. When you begin to recognize the goodness in your life, and make a conscious effort to be grateful for those things, you will see that every day there is more and more to be thankful for.
If you really think there is nothing to be thankful for in your life, you’re probably not trying hard enough. At the least, you should be thankful you are fortunate enough to have access to a computer with internet to be able to read this.
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice feeling thankful have an advantage when it comes to their health. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at UC Davis, has been a leading researcher in the growing field of “positive psychology.” His research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits.
Emmons’ findings suggest that grateful people may be more likely to:
·         take better care of themselves physically and mentally
·         engage in protective health behaviors and maintenance
·         get more regular exercise
·         eat a healthier diet
·         have improved mental alertness
·         cope better with stress and daily challenges
·         feel happier and more optimistic
·         have stronger immune systems
·         maintain a brighter view of the future
With that list of benefits, who wouldn’t want to try it? Consider integrating some of these steps into your daily life.
Attitude also plays a large part in determining whether you can feel grateful, in spite of life’s challenges. Gratitude can be defined by your attitude towards both the outside world and yourself. Those who are more aware of the positives in their lives tend to focus their attention outside of themselves.
For the past 4 years, I have been a mentor/ advocate for a family of 4 brothers, the Sanchez men. There is Cesar 22, Miguel 21, Manuel 20 & Jesus 19 (read my earlier blog “Other People’s Lives”). Each of the brothers has lived with me for about 1 year, usually when they got out of the foster care system at 18. Each has their own personalities and I would never lump them all together. There is one thing, however, that I insist on for all of them and that is the importance of saying “Thank You” every time it’s due. As I explain it to them, “It’ not that I like hearing ‘Thank You’ for myself. It’s an important life lesson so I insist on it. Good manners will take you a long way”. They are probably tired of hearing it but every time they don’t say it when it’s due, I go into my speech.

I truly believe that being grateful opens me to more opportunities to be grateful for. This has proven true in my personal life and I am very fortunate.

                                  (L -R) Miguel, Cesar, Jesus & Manuel

                                (L -R) Miguel, Cesar, Jesus & Manuel