Gratitude is an abundant gift for all seasons

Published 3:07 pm Saturday, November 28, 2009

Celebrating the spirit of Thanksgiving not just during this holiday weekend but in our daily life, in all seasons, is one way we can offer ourselves as a gift to others.

Practicing an attitude of gratitude is a simple, yet powerful, way to enhance our own well-being and be a blessing to those around us. Research suggests that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people experience less stress and depression, and more satisfaction in their lives and social relationships. Gratitude also contributes to greater levels of personal growth, purpose in life and self acceptance.

As we are grateful we open ourselves to see the many blessings that surround us. Even in the midst of difficult times we can take a moment to reflect on something in our life that we are grateful for. Feeling true thankfulness can inspire us to share that spirit with others. Sharing our blessings is what I believe “Live United” is all about. It is what guides the work of United Way and our vision of ensuring that all members of our community experience quality of life.

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What does quality of life mean to you? At United Way we are focusing on what we believe are the three building blocks to quality of life: education, income and health.

People need a quality education that will lead to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health. These universal needs are interrelated; when someone experiences a deficit in one area it impacts the other areas as well. We as individuals are also connected and interdependent. When one member of our community lacks education, income or health it affects us, too. That is why reaching out a hand to one really does influence the condition of all.

What can we do to ensure that everyone in Freeborn County has their essential needs met?

Let us first start with cultivating an attitude of gratitude within ourselves. Take a moment to think about how you have been blessed and then let that spirit lead you.

Some may wish to share their financial resources. Others may help further the cause of a worthy organization by using their voice and serving as an advocate. Still others may find purpose in volunteering their time and talent.

I believe the words of A.J. Cronin, a Scottish novelist, sum up the multiplying effect of gratitude: “Gratitude is something of which none of us can give too much. For on the smiles, the thanks we give, our little gestures of appreciation, our neighbors build their philosophy of life.”

Giving, advocating, and volunteering are all acts of kindness that represent investment in our community and contribute to the common good. When we are open to working together, living united with a spirit of gratitude, we can achieve the vision of a sustainable community that offers the promise of quality of life for all.

Corrine Applegate is the office administrator for the United Way of Freeborn County.