Finding Gratitude Daily
by Bonnie Bauer | Member, Wellness Committee
There is never a shortage of things to be thankful for if we just take the time to look.
A short video called “A Moving Story about Gratitude” on YouTube touched my heart, as my love for teaching has always been one of the things I have been most grateful for in my life. It ended with a very special quote.
“Let us be grateful not for the material things given to us but the small ways we give something to others.”
We often teach children to fill other people’s invisible buckets. In return, their own bucket will be filled, and they will be happier. This can be true at any stage of our lives — young or old.
Like all things, the process of aging can present its fair set of challenges, but we just have to remember that the positive aspects of old age drastically outweigh the negatives.
- Wisdom. This comes from all your years of experience. They say that “experience is the best teacher,” and experience brings about wisdom that can’t be learned otherwise. A person learns much more from things that happen to them in real life. Wisdom also makes you able to empathize and feel other people’s emotions.
- A happier outlook. Perspective has a way of showing you that ultimately, life always works out. Research suggests it may be easier to feel grateful as we grow older. Neuroscientists have suggested that older people have a sunnier outlook because the area of the brain involved in emotional attention and memory becomes less active in response to the negative information. Older individuals maintain or even increase their reactivity to positive information.
- Opportunity to pursue lifelong dreams.
One benefit of retirement and aging is that it gives us forty-plus hours of free time each week, which we can now dedicate to pursuing other lifelong passions and dreams. I love to make digital photo books, and someday I would like to learn to quilt. Travelling is also a top priority.
- Financial perks. One of the obvious positive aspects of old age is the opportunity to cash in on our CPP and old age security. I haven’t made it to the second one yet, but hopefully I will in another few years. That’s something to be grateful for. ATRF pays me to wake up each morning and do whatever I want with my day. Plus, there are senior discounts for travelling, dining, and shopping. You just need to learn what day to do your shopping to get the best deal. I recently found out that Thursdays are twenty per cent off for seniors at a nearby drug store, and they even included me. It was pretty sweet!
- More time for loved ones. More free time usually translates to more time to spend with those who really matter. Which brings us to our next advantage of old age —
- Grandchildren. The experience of raising your own children makes you value your grandchildren that much more. They offer love and a fulfilling relationship, with less responsibility. We can spoil them, love them to bits, and send them home at the end of the day.
- More stable friendships and relationships. By the time you’ve reached old age, you’ve likely been able to filter through unrewarding and toxic friendships and relationships. Having and maintaining quality friendships and relationships contribute to companionship, which is a huge factor for longevity. I have three very dear girlfriends, and we’ve already decided that if we outlive our husbands, we’re going to move in together. We love to play cards, take walks, eat girl food, do aquacize in the pool, and relax in the hot tub. We will get a granny nanny to live with us and drive us to our appointments, and all will be well.
- Good stories to tell. Who doesn’t appreciate a good story? The longer you live, the more experiences you have, which translates to more good stories to tell. Fond memories, whether kept to yourself or told to someone else, are a huge advantage of old age.
- Greater sense of self. The older you are, the more you know who you are, which allows you to be less influenced by outside opinion and less bound by cultural restraints. When you have a greater sense of self, decision-making is easier. Knowing yourself allows you to be yourself, and no one can say you’re doing it wrong! Be grateful for who you are.
Remember, gratitude is a choice. We get to choose to be grateful every day and look for the good things in our lives.
A retired elementary music teacher, Bonnie Bauer lives with her husband Stan on an acreage just outside of Vermilion. She loves life and is grateful for her family, friends, and the opportunities of retirement.