by Erin Weist
Recently, I was reminded of a group of teenagers who reached out to my mom’s brother as a youth and with that small act of kindness drastically altered the life of their whole family for the better. I can say with assurance that my family, our children, and their children would not be here and have the good life we do without the friendly intervention of those kids. My heart swelled with gratitude for them as I thought of the goodness that has come into my life and the lives of several generations because of their willingness to include a neighbor. I pray God blesses them, wherever they are now, for their good examples and their kindness all those decades ago.
Every life carries pain, hurt, even despair, but I was reminded that there is also great goodness, kindness and love in every life, even if that love only emanates from the individual himself. What about you? What sort of personal interactions have occurred that have improved your life? Events involving other people that changed things for the better and put you on a path to greater happiness? How often do you remember those events?
In my experience, human nature tends to more easily run toward negativity, while positive outlooks and expressions of gratitude in our lives take more work, more mindful practice. In recent decades study after study after study has shown that positivity and gratitude overwhelmingly correlate with improved health and overall well-being. (A simple search engine query brought up more than I could read, but here are a few: In Praise of Gratitude, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, The Neuroscience of Why Gratitude Makes Us Healthier, and Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation.)
There is no time like the present to reach out to family members, friends, neighbors, even those from long ago, and express gratitude for the positive effect they’ve had on your life. Reflecting on those things can bring a great sense of peace into our troubled world. And every bit of gratitude helps.