Studying and writing about gratitude and its desirable side effects has made me more alert to gratifying situations in my own everyday life. What I found that amazed me was that gratitude opportunities (GOs) were popping up all over in unexpected places.
What they had in common was that many seemed to be occurring just because my age related changes (ARCs) have progressed so much.
In this vein, I seem to be experiencing two types of pleasurable glows that trigger gratitude. Some are soft, puffy sensations that envelop me for longer periods of time. Others are sharper, shorter and very situation-oriented. Another insight that surprised me was that some GO’s happened because something was happening to me while other really important GO’s occurred when something did not happen, e.g. I didn’t drop or spill anything all morning. Here are some examples of my ARCs and their related GOs.
- Loss of insulating tissue in my scrawny arms and legs create GOs each time I don snuggly layers of insulating clothing or climb into a pre-warmed bed with enough quilts. I bask when there’s warm weather. I glow with the predictable warmth of a working heating system in the home and my cozy gas fireplace opposite my recliner. I’m pleased with lower electricity bills for air conditioning and tolerant of higher natural gas bills.
- Eye and vision changes create soft ongoing pleasure in longer, lighter days and adequate lighting. Specific GO experiences come with my sense of safety as strategically placed light-sensitive night lights turn on when darkness falls, and when I turn on the little “flashlight” a son designed and fastened on my walker for a path of light in a dark room.
- Weakened trunk and leg muscles that limit rising to standing, daily offer dozens of specific occasions to be grateful for: seats that are 4-6” higher than normal in chairs, toilet seats, my mattress, car seats etc. and houses/businesses that don’t have stairs to be climbed.
- Weakened, clumsy hands have led to discovery of all sorts of graspable kitchen tools with which to retrieve dropped objects of all shapes and sizes and clean up all types of spills. I feel warm pride in my inventiveness, even as I hate what caused the need.
- Progressing postural imbalance leads to multiple GOs. I experience quiet appreciation when I safely walk on floors clear of small objects, absent of inclines. The same holds true for storage of objects between eye and knee level. When I use my “nose and toes” and “center, center” mantras and find safe ways to maneuver and retrieve things safely, I’m proud.
- Forgetfulness and distractibility yield glows of pride when I again find that my mantras of: “Focus, focus!” “One thing at a time!” and “Finish what you start!” flash into my mind and guide my behavior. It also happens when I find myself following exactly the ritual schedules I’ve set up for a sequence of activities when I get up in the morning and again when I go to bed at night. (They assure my not forgetting some highly essential activity.
My brain (with it’s tiny neurons and dendrites) has even surprised/delighted me in this activity
offering, unbidden, suggestions for streamlining some step within the ritual. (Is it to be happy to be challenged to work this hard?)
I’m wondering if this growing awareness of linkage between ARCs and GOs will sharpen my mind’s eyes for spotting more ongoing GOs and yield the warm pleasure they give, whether that pleasures is cloud-soft or sharply specific.
This blog piece and its examples represent one very old female who lives alone, her nature, nurture, resources, health status and ARCs. At any earlier age, my situation list would have been vastly different. Each of you will have your own age and version of conditions. So this piece is not offered as some ideal, merely a one person’s shared experience that may serve possible “fresh eyes “ with which to explore your own GOs if you choose to test them.