A lot is written and discussed about “gratitude,” especially at this time of year. I’ve seen many articles and “lifehacks” on how to be “intentional” about, or “practice” gratitude. I’ll admit to feeling some speculation about what I feel has become the gratitude industry. To me, gratitude signifies manners and social consideration; it’s part of the fabric of a successful community. To treat it otherwise has felt overcomplicated and contrived. For example, there are signs in stores telling me how to express or feel gratitude. I get a little cranky about that—“of course I express gratitude; stop telling me how to behave!”

And yet, I think my impatience is unfair. I move at high speed and orbit several different planets at once. I DO need to be more intentional about gratitude—about what it means in my life, when I feel it, and how I express it. Those are very personal thoughts. I think that’s why I am not comfortable with the spotlight on gratitude. I need to get over it.

Science has shown that people who are grateful feel happier, often having an improved sense of well-being, higher self-esteem and experience less depression and anxiety. One study found that levels of gratitude can affect overall life satisfaction. Gratitude is powerful because it is a complex social emotion; it makes us think of others and see situations from their perspective.

The sheer ways in which gratitude is apparent here at MOWGLV is overwhelming. Our clients give us—and our volunteers—notes, hugs, squeezes, smiles, voice mails, and conversations filled with gratitude. Staff is so grateful for the volunteers who take care of our clients and help us with so many tasks around the office. I am grateful for a staff that is professional and completes their work with dignity and respect for the people who trust us. I know our Board of Directors is grateful for staff, volunteers, and donors, all who are integral to our work. I put out a request for a few turkeys and—BAM—within two days, we had what we needed. If I could draw a diagram, there would be many interconnecting circles of gratitude. As I said, overwhelming.

If there were a way to measure gratitude with a thermometer, I think MOWGLV folks would blow off the top!

The Lehigh Valley is a caring and giving community. Legend of Allentown and Lifespring sponsored Thanksgiving pie for our clients. We are grateful for them extending the spirit of Thanksgiving to our clients. Yes, I think pie does that!

This article by WFMZ highlights some of the community meals available during Thanksgiving week. You might know someone who could use this resource, or you might be impressed, as I was, with this expression of community support: https://www.wfmz.com/news/area/lehighvalley/lehigh-valley-organizations-offering-free-thanksgiving-meals-to-the-community/article_3116f806-07e9-11ea-9373-0b0efd90349f.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

I am glad that I was directed to be more intentional about gratitude. Writing this has driven home the many ways in which we connect with each other to do great things to strengthen this community. I thank you all for this moment, and for all you do.

Happy Thanksgiving!