Attitude of gratitude makes for better life

By state Sen. Linda Newell


By now, you're probably thinking about turkey (or tofurkey), pumpkin pie, and family gatherings. It's that time when families are cooking together, laughing together, and yes, maybe even arguing at dinner together. Some might be excited about the Thanksgiving traditions, and others dreading the dinner conversations about politics or life choices of our siblings. I'm one person who still believes November is a great time to remember our blessings in life.

I'm reminded of how my parents inspired me to live my life with integrity, accountability, and compassion — and … an “attitude of gratitude.” No matter how difficult times got (and they did), we as a family, would continue to persevere and be grateful for what was working well in our lives. We were taught that we had a choice of how we lived daily — in regret and complaint or with gratitude and optimism. In so doing we realized that by being grateful and positive, we were actually happier.

Now before you start to think I might be too “Pollyanna-ish,” hear how this has continually served me, my family, and my constituents. If you look at the statistics and research, you'll see that optimists can outlive pessimists on an average of up to 20 years longer! And that people who have “attitudes of gratitude,” overall, do better on tests, perform better at work, and create higher incomes. They also do better in relationships both personally and professionally.

So with all those findings, why wouldn't I take on a regular practice of counting my blessings and looking for the good around me? Yes, I may get sad “reality checks” occasionally in what I do as a state senator. Yet even in those times, I look for that one spark of humanity, honor or integrity when I can confirm that we are a people looking for the common good for all.

Look at the recent examples of those surviving the floods. We've seen story after story of people embracing the positives rather than focusing on the horrors they've just experienced. Why? Because optimism and hope work to get us up in the morning, keep us going, and to seek positive solutions.

As a single mom, there were many times I could have easily given up when I couldn't find a job or pay the mortgage. Instead, my girls and I have spent many a dinner listing the things for which we were grateful. I truly believe that practice is one of the reasons we survived and conquered the negativity and scarcity around us.

As a legislator, I see the difference a positive attitude makes in negotiating legislation — better collaboration, more thoughtful solutions due to open minds, and win-win relationships kept intact.

So what if we all spent November with an “attitude of gratitude?” Could it make a positive difference in your home, workplace, or community? Would there be any harm in trying it out? I'd be shocked if you didn't feel happier by the end of the month!

Grateful to serve you…

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