Genuine Gratitude

As the leaves change colors and fall off the trees and the temperatures drop, most of us cannot help but think of what makes us grateful. Gratitude does seem to go hand and hand with turkey and mashed potatoes and all the other holiday traditions. According to dictionary.com, gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Being part of the chronic illness community, I feel this is one of the loveliest qualities we possess and need to hold onto.

A Genuine Feeling

Gratitude outshines all other emotions. So much so that when you experience it, your smile and eyes shine with genuineness. Hopefully everyone has experienced this feeling at some point in their lives. Close your eyes and imagine one time when you were so thankful and genuinely happy. You may have smiled so hard that your cheeks had gone numb from being so overwhelmed from your love and joy. That moment may have been so touching that even still to this current moment, you cannot come up with the appropriate words to express your thankfulness or gratitude.

Daily Gratitude

I would like to think that most of us experience gratitude daily in even the simplest of things. Some of my daily moments of gratitude are from my dog Lacie, my nephews and family, and when someone holds the door for me. When that happens, I light up and will very excitedly yell ‘thank you!’ out of my appreciation for them and their small act. That moment will usually make my day, and the person may never even understand why I shouted thank you so quickly, but I hope they do.

Tracking Your Gratitude

If you wanted to, you could keep a little journal to help track and find what you are grateful for. In the morning you could write down one or more things you are grateful for or how you will make today great. You could even include a positive affirmation. During your nighttime routine you can write down a good deed or two that you did that day or even some great experiences you had. Of course, you can mix and match or find even more ideas online for doing a gratitude journal if it is something that interests you.

I wish you all the happiest and warmest of holiday seasons to you and your loved ones.

About Me

*waves* Hi MS community, my name is Kelly and I am an intern at the MSAA for the fall semester. I’ll be graduating in the spring with my Associates degree in Human Services. I’ve been disabled now for about 13 years, since I was 17 years old. I am a type 1 Diabetic, and have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Necrobiosis Lipoidica Diabeticorum, plus a few other diseases. I use a walker or cane daily. My hobbies include advocating for the disabled, playing video games, and lounging with my dog.

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Some invaluable lessons (from some unlikely sources)

It’s that time of year when the holidays are upon us in full force. With the celebrations of Hanukkah starting last week and the arrival of Christmas and Kwanzaa in a bit under two weeks, the season is in full swing. It’s during this time of the year when many people find themselves taking moments to reflect on the year and what they found important, meaningful, challenging or inspiring. Certain experiences, teachings and life lessons are frequently pondered during the holiday season as people recount what they’re grateful for, things they’d like to learn, and notions they are still trying to grapple with. It’s funny to admit but during this time of year especially there are some very invaluable lessons that can be considered and reflected upon from influences around us. Granted most of these influences may be in the form of animated figures and storytellers, but their lessons are still valid and appreciated as guideposts of direction and conscience.

Take for example the beloved, though mostly outcast, Charlie Brown Peanuts character. Even though his actions of choosing an at first glance unattractive looking Christmas tree to use as a prop for his friend’s Christmas play were ridiculed and contested, in the end it gave way to a most memorable and impactful speech explaining the true meaning of the holiday and what ‘Christmas is all about.’

Lesson: It’s the meaning of the season and why it’s celebrated that matters most, not material items or commercialism.

Another recognizable figure during this time is Dr. Seuss’ the Grinch character. Now he had the most learning to do of all – with his heart two sizes too small. Again he thought the season was just about material possessions and how much the Who’s had. It angered him to see how they reveled in the holiday celebration and thought that by taking away their belongings this would dampen their spirit. But the Who’s blatant joy and celebration despite their loss taught the Grinch more, of course, that ‘perhaps Christmas doesn’t come from a store.’

Lesson: The holidays are a time for appreciating who and what you have in your life that brings you happiness and realizing what you’re grateful for, and being together, even perhaps singing a little ‘Fahoo-dores.’  

And lastly, perhaps one of the most influential, historical characters during this time of year? Why yes, it’s Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge himself, the feisty curmudgeon who could really suck the spirit out of the holiday season – if you let him. Scrooge’s memorable and extraordinary tale of being visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve really captures multiple lessons of the season. By redeeming himself and changing his ways by the end of the tale, which we can only hope continued even after the story ended, he was able to ‘keep the spirit of Christmas close to his heart’ and celebrate all year through.

Lessons: Think and consider those who are less fortunate than you, and when able, spread prosperity (in any form) to others. Think about your actions – they can affect others too, not just yourself. Gratitude and appreciation can go a long way. Keep the meaning and spirit of the holidays close to you always.

Now not everyone may recognize or know these characters mentioned above, but the message remains the same. No matter what time of year, you deserve to think about what’s important to you, what you enjoy, and how these things influence your day to day. Values and lessons are important to consider—not only during the holiday season, but the whole year through.

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Giving Thanks

V2-2015-MSAA_Thanksgiving_Cards5This week many individuals around the country will celebrate Thanksgiving, a national holiday symbolizing the notions of graciousness and appreciation. This holiday and others represent different things to different people and hold varied meanings for all who celebrate them.  But a concept that can be universal and celebrated all year through is that of gratitude. Finding what you’re thankful for, no matter how big or small or different, is a part of this holiday tradition. Expressing your gratitude can help pay it forward and inspire others to do the same, and to hopefully further inspire acts of appreciation and kindness across our society. Celebrating the holiday can simply mean appreciating and reflecting on the words themselves-‘Thanks’ and ‘Giving.’

Please note that MSAA’s offices are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th.

From all of us here at MSAA, please enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

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