Gratitude: The Fountain of Youth

I love reading the obituaries. These short stories of peoples’ lives echo the huge variety of the human experience. Each of us has our own tale to tell. I find myself imagining who people lived with, what they did for a living, where they traveled, what was important to them, how they saw the world. Every person has their own unique experiences of life, and the obituaries highlight that uniqueness. 

Reading the obituaries also fills me with gratitude — gratitude for the contributions that everyday people make to their families and communities and gratitude that I am still here and that my story continues. 

I am grateful for all the experiences that life has thrown my way: the support and love of friends and family, the organizations that accepted and empowered me, the beautiful places where I have lived and visited, the communities that welcomed me, the people who allowed me into their lives, the places where I have been of service. 

Not surprisingly, gratitude provides psychological and physical benefits. It contributes to positive life outcomes, such as more happiness and greater satisfaction, while reducing stress and depression. Gratitude is a mood booster that helps us feel more positive in the face of challenges.

I find that when I am present to gratitude, I have no sense of age. Rather, I experience myself as being outside of age and aging. When I am present to gratitude, I am more likely to be interacting with others, seeking support, more self-accepting, and more present to a sense of purpose.

When I come from entitlement, the opposite of gratitude, I find that I am always disappointed, dissatisfied and “feeling my age”. When I bring expectations that I have somehow earned the outcome, I do not leave any room for contribution from others. After all, they are only doing that which should have been done in the first place. At best, circumstances are only what they should have been.  

We who are further along the path have faced life’s transitions: retirement from work, health issues, losses of loved ones and friends. Gratitude can help transform these transitions into growth opportunities by generating positive emotions, leading to more favorable outcomes.  For me, gratitude is the key to participating with others and allowing others to contribute. I just must be willing to allow for others.

I am present that I have less time on this journey than I did in the beginning. Gratitude gives me acceptance of my short-term losses, making available long-term rewards. I get to experience life at this unique time and place. What is more exciting than the unknown future, or the people that I have yet to meet? I am grateful that I have more experiences to come, meeting new people, making new friends, experiencing new places, seeing new things.

ChrisJonesWhen I am grateful, I am ageless, alive, and ready for whatever comes next. I am grateful for you. 

Bio: Chris Jones retired after forty-five years as an estate planning attorney. He lives in Portland, Oregon, to be close to his sons, grandkids, and the beauty of nature. He enjoys laughing and the experience of being alive.


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