Bargell: Firing up the Summit County appreciate engine in time for Turkey Day
Special to the Daily
A couple of weeks remain before the main event for giving thanks, and it’s time to fire up my dormant appreciation engine. November is a fitting month for a refresher course on gratitude as the time sandwiched between elections and the holiday season, both of which tend to leave me frayed around the edges. It is our month to take stock of all that is good, and it’s a good thing too because shorter days and cooler weather can leave this mountain mom in state that is far from gleeful.
For the last couple of years the initial prompt to remember gratitude comes when Facebook friends begin to post daily one single item they are thankful for. There’s even a Facebook page, “Thirty Days of Thankful” where random people post random messages of gratitude. Granted, the opening days of the month often are somewhat predictable, with family and friends topping nearly every list. It reminds me however there are people right now who are grieving the loss of a loved one, or who feel particularly friendless during this season. Reaching out is one expression of gratitude I often overlook.
I’ve noticed too that several people have posted much more detailed information giving reasons why a particular family member, mentor or friend engenders appreciation. My guess is the sentiments will linger far longer than the post that quickly disappears from the Facebook feed. These mini-tributes remind me that specific expressions of gratitude hold a unique place in our hearts, and suggest that somewhere along the way these friends have figured out gratitude grows when practiced regularly.
Still, when feeling particularly curmudgeon-like, I try to recall on the selfish benefits of a good dose of appreciation. Psychological studies confirm an attitude of gratitude helps us relish good experiences, improves our health and makes us better able to deal with adversity. Better than a long work-out with a fraction of the sweat.
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Honing in on the gratitude also requires me to relinquish self-pity, and to consider instead the people who daily deal with issues that would make me crumble. Take one look at the photos being released from the Philippines the concerns of the day take on an entirely different hue. It’s not about being thankful the disaster did not strike here, but instead realizing that it could, and that each seemingly uneventful day gives rise to its own reason to celebrate.
The Summit School District has initiated a little something different this month to give special meaning to November. Giving Thanks Thursdays is a simple way to make a big difference in another person’s day. The district announcement suggests penning a note or email to a teacher or administrator that has touched your child’s life in a positive way. In my life emails too often fly when something bad happens. The next two Thursdays provide a chance to buck that trend, and to, well, give thanks a chance.
Already there have been so many opportunities to say thanks this month it can’t be a coincidence. From the saints remembered on All Saints Day to the veterans honored earlier this week, or the teachers appreciated on Thursday, a good look around confirms there is much to be thankful for, even before the arrival of Tom Turkey. Next year when “Day 1” first appears on all those status pages I hope I will have made some progress during the intervening 365 days to express my appreciation for the people and the events that color my world, and that all too often fade away without a simple word of appreciation.
Cindy Bargell lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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