Re-Imagining Retirement: Gratitude

Sharon Rolph

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”  Maya Angelou

A recent video I watched by Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, excited me! I’ve felt it is such a personal choice to see life as negative rather than positive. (God is gracious to give us personal choice.) So, what you believe is your choice.

There nothing I can do to influence that. Until now. Who wants to be three times more creative? Or have higher intelligence? Or be 30 percent more likely to live to 94? Shawn says his research shows, regardless of genes for pessimism, small two-minute positive habits are transformative. Spending two minutes around the dinner table with 5 year olds thinking of three new things they are grateful for, changes them into a lifelong default optimist. Even 80-year-old pessimistic men wind up testing as low-level optimists after spending two minutes a day on positive habits for 21 days.

Gratitude expressed in a two-minute email daily creates a ripple affect among our friends and community. I know I need to express my thanks more often. In fact, I’m hoping there is a resurgence in mailing cards because more of us are expressing our love and thanks through the postal service.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson.

Should you be someone who doesn’t yet count their blessings, then one way to begin changing your future, is with forgiveness. It is a very powerful and has literally changed many, many lives. Ponder, the Lord’s Prayer states it in a two-directional way: forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Gratefulness can flow from more naturally from our spirit, then.

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” — Ralph H. Blum

I wish for massive waves of calmness to come to our nation. Don’t you?

This reminds me of a story I heard last month about gratitude. I’d asked a senior center worker for a speaker recommendation on gratitude. She told me a story of a man saying he’d won the lottery three times. The first time was when he was born in America. The second time was when he was born to loving parents. The third time was when he married a woman who loved him dearly. How many of us can agree deeply with his assertion?

As we give thanks for our summer harvest, this year’s newborns and the abundant freedoms we enjoy, help others — not so grateful — to begin practicing a two-minute positive habit that will impact their future in amazing ways.

My next What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with purpose in retirement workshop comes up Tuesday, Nov. 27 at the Mill Creek Senior Center at 10 a.m. Their address is 4111 133rd St. S.E., Mill Creek (across from the Penny Creek Elementary School). New: Listen on Thursdays at 9 a.m. to Maximize Retirement at or on Roku.

— By Sharon Rolph

Sharon Rolph is a 25-plus-year resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds and earned her masters degree in applied behavioral science and bachelor’s degree in administration from City University. Her career includes many years at GTE and Boeing in Everett and Tukwila. She presents What Do I Want to Do in Retirement? Connecting with Purpose in Retirement workshops at senior centers.


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