7 Tangible Acts of Gratefulness 

 Gratitude That Changes Things

It’s that time of year again when people all over America are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with friends and family.  We’ve begun to see that days of gratitude posts on social media, we’ve seen “gobs” of turkeys in the store (see what I did there…gobs/gobble?), and in some parts of the country we’ve started to fear that all the fall décor outside will be covered in snow before the big day.

Gratitude is an amazing thing.   It is genuinely good for you.  Many say that it has health benefits for the thankful ones.  Even if it doesn’t do anything for your health, it is good for you as you seek to be a more compassionate & empathetic person.  But, are there other ways that this season of gratitude could benefit those around us in need?  Saying we’re thankful is necessary & wonderful.  Showing that we’re thankful by what we do each day is even better, especially if we’re feeling less than thankful because of present circumstances.

So here are 7 ideas to show that you’re thankful for the life you’ve been given, even when the going is tough.

#1. Food.  This is usually a safe place to start.  If you live in America, chances are that you have had or will have a meal today.  Now, maybe it isn’t exactly what you would prefer.  Maybe you haven’t been able to go out to eat in a year or two, but you’ve most likely had food recently.  When you find yourself thankful for food, there are a variety of ways to express that appreciation by giving to others who are struggling.  Give to a food shelf or pantry.  Volunteer at a soup kitchen or for meals on wheels (trust me, they’re always looking for volunteers).  At the very least make a bit of something and share it with a neighbor or a friend that could use a hand because they work long hours or have been in the hospital.  If those don’t suit you, consider giving to charities like Heifer International to give the gift of animals or seeds to people in developing countries so that the investment keeps growing.

#2. Warmth.  If you are feeling especially grateful for the heat that you get to experience, especially if you live in a northern climate, consider giving warm gear to your local clothing drive.  Coats, snow pants, hats, scarves, gloves, etc. are usually accepted at coat drives for those struggling to stay warm or to clothe their children for the winter months.

#3.  Shelter.  How often do you walk into your home with overwhelming gratefulness to be out of the elements outside (whether it’s too cold, hot, or pouring cats & dogs)?  If you are grateful for shelter, consider that others would be grateful for the chance at shelter.  Most cities & even some smaller towns now have shelter for those in need.  Give a gift of money or something else that they’ve stated that they need.

#4.  Healthy relationships.  Sometimes being around people that have unhealthy relationships is enough to spur our thankfulness for those with whom we share a good relationship.  When you find yourself thankful in this way, consider helping those who are struggling in this way.  There are multiple battered women’s shelters & homes that help children transitioning out of abusive situations.  If you are really struck by the need of the children in these situations, consider more than just giving monetarily.  The need for foster parents in good homes is huge in every state in our country.  You could have a direct impact in their lives.  If that seems too extreme, perhaps a big brother/big sister program might be a better fit.

#5.  Education.  It’s always an option to contribute to scholarship funds for others who attended your high school or other less fortunate areas of the country.  Help someone else out in the same way in which you were helped!

#6.  Extended family.  Donating time or items to nursing homes is a great way to show thankfulness for those in our extended family that are elderly.  They are often looking for volunteers to help with activities, reading aloud, giving small concerts for residents, etc.  It can be a great way to give back.

#7.  Health.  If you’re extremely grateful for your health, consider giving to hospitals that do not charge their patients, like certain children’s hospitals.  They’re always looking for donations.  If you’re unable to give monetarily, perhaps volunteering might be an option, or making needed items like chemo hats or lap blankets.  Be sure to call in advance to be sure you’d be filling a need & not creating extra hassle with items that you’d make.

These are just a few ideas, but I’m fully confident that if you dwell on how thankful you are, you will probably come up with many more ideas that can show your thankfulness in tangible ways & help to make someone else’s life a bit more bearable.

Positive Mental Attitude in Recovery from Illness & Injury

  Everyone, by now, has heard about how important having a positive outlook in life is.  Since the 1980's it has been toted as the thing that can make or break one's mood, relationships, & health while significantly influencing career & every other aspect of life.  “Thinking positive” seems to be the answer to many of life's problems, or at least, seems to be the common prescription from those who do not want hear about someone else's problems.  But can thinking positive, on it's own, really help in the recovery from illness or injury?

First of all, let me say that no one really knows for sure.  Science cannot fully measure just HOW positive a person is, or how much of an improvement that thinking good thoughts can influence recovery.  There are always tragic situations where you encounter a person who seems very positive & happy & discover later that their lives are filled with anxiety and debilitating depression.  There is, however, anecdotal evidence from days gone by that can give us clues on how to recover from illness & injury with grace & a bit of spunk that will make those much younger smile in encouragement.

  1. Don't cry over spilled milk. Have you ever heard that common, old-time expression?  It is one of the ways that people have dealt with difficult circumstances in life throughout the centuries.  It is a form of positive mental attitude to learn to handle things that are beyond our control with grace.  So you broke your hip?   You have to learn how to sit, stand, walk & carry on with life again?  There's nothing you can do to change it, so getting on with physical therapy is the best way to spend your energy at this point.  Don't cry over it, clean it up & carry on!
  2. Older people who have great reputations within their family for life & vitality are often much better at adapting to changes in life.  Perhaps a lung condition has you down?  Learning to use a nebulizer or inhaler when you're supposed to may seem scary at first, but adapting to the reality of your current situation will help you move forward quickly.  Those who are resistant to facing reality, who dig in with both heels & try to remain the same, are often those with major heart or stroke issues.  Positive thoughts are not always flowery, many times they are simply clear reflections of current situations & finding the most mature & loving way to handle them.
  3. Finding the best ways to counteract illness & injury before they occur can also be a form of positive thinking.  Working on your posture, breathing, flexibility, etc. can shows your positive outlook on life as you are wanting to have great quality of life for as long as possible. 

So perhaps thinking good thoughts IS good for you, but it does not necessarily mean that you have to think of sunshine & butterflies in order to be a positive person.  Simply being straightforward, honest, truthful & real will do a world of good as you move into the moonlight stages of life.  Spend some time reflecting on older people that you have known & how they've aged.  Emulate the qualities that you appreciated in them.  It may shorten recovery, but it will definitely improve your life!

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