Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

I am a Staffing Coordinator at a nursing home in Minnesota. My main job function is to ensure we are fully staffed twenty-four hours a day. One of my many other responsibilities is managing our lodge employee program. Lodge employees are people who work at the nursing home and live in one of the lodges on our campus. This lodge is a housing unit for people in recovery, many of which are homeless. These individuals, after their first thirty days of sobriety, are then allowed to come up and work at the nursing home as monitors. I can name about a dozen people who are here for a few months, try to go out on their own, then relapse and come right back. Then there are the guys who I see once and never see them again. I feel for these people, and the lives they have chosen. I grow fond of some of them, and try to be there for support, and tell them about my own personal recovery. I root for them hoping they can beat their addictions and enter back into society with a place to live. I look at their lives and it makes me grateful for who I am and what I have accomplished in my life thus far.

I had one of my lodge employees come talk to me over the winter. This guy has been one of the best employees I have had in over three years. He came to me one day to ask me for advice. His dilemma was whether he should leave the lodge and grab his fiancé from another sobriety/homeless shelter in Minneapolis, take the money he has made working here, and go back to St. Cloud to live in a motel. Being that it was winter, he was concerned about what he would do when he ran out of money. He told me it would be almost impossible to find a homeless shelter to live in up there. He said he felt content and safe at the lodge and is going on two years of sobriety. His fiancé, on the other hand, was staying somewhere in Minneapolis where they will hold a bed for her as long as she volenteers as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. She does not like where she is and is trying to pressure this guy to leave. He wants to stay here until springtime because he says it’s a lot easier to be homeless when the weather is nice. I offered some programs he could check into but I really wanted to shake this guy and tell him there are so many options out there for him, he doesn’t need to be homeless. I advised him to stay where he was at and encourage his fiancé to do the same.  

This got me thinking of my own life and how truly lucky I am. I have a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful family. I have a stable job, although not what I dreamed I would become; it pays the bills. I live in a beautiful home, there are times I just stop and take a step back in awe seeing all that I have. There is always food on the table and we feel blessed knowing our kids will never starve. Although I do not place a high value on possessions, we have many things people only dream of. We are able to spoil our kids for Christmas and even though we live check to check, we manage to survive month in and month out. These are all blessings I have been given, which I am sure any of the guy at the lodge would give anything to have. The problem is, I don’t always realize how truly blessed I am, it is as if, I almost forget how great I have it (this is usually when ego takes over.) I will at times take for granted the life I have and the people within it. I just grow comfortable with my situation, I do not take the time or energy to realize and reflect on what I am thankful for. In this situation I  take for granted the things and people I have in my life. I do not express enough how grateful I am to have everything that I do.

Considering my severe mental illness, and my personal battles with addiction, I could realistically be any of these guys over at the lodge, or perhaps even much worse. I wish I could take all the credit for this, but my beautiful wife has been my guiding light. Even in my darkest hours her love, compassion, and just plain giving a shit, has always lead my way home. She has always seen me for the man I can become, even though I have shown her the opposite. My children give me the motivation to become a better father than I have ever had. I have wonderful mother, supportive siblings, regular readers, a killer children’s book series, a great home,  cool shit I never thought I would have. I have kids who love and think the world of me, a great dog (not my first choice but I have grown to love him) and I am one of the few people out there who can say they found and married their soul mate. I may not always see it, but I love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  

As for the gentleman I mentioned earlier; sadly he did not take my advice. He left two days after we had our conversation, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since. Wherever he is, I hope he can find the same happiness I know today.

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“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.”
Henri Frederic Amiel

Henri Frédéric Amiel (29 September 1821 – 11 May 1881) was a Swiss philosopher, professor, poet and critic. Amiel is best known for his book “Journal Intime,” which, was published after his death. In addition to the Journal, he produced several volumes of poetry, and wrote studies on Erasmus, Madame de Stael and other writers. Sometimes you come across quotes by people where there are gems right after another; Amiel is one of those people. Out of the 92 pages of quotes I have found; you will find Amiel’s to be in the top ten volumes wise. He was definitely a head of his time.

This quote personifies my own personal failures in my relationships. My wife always tells me that actions speak louder than words, and my appreciation for her personal sacrifices’ should be shown. I wonder why it’s so easy for me to say thank you for this or that, but I fail in showing her my gratitude. If thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude, and gratitude is the completion of thankfulness; then somewhere along the line I have failed in completing thankfulness.

I wonder how often gratitude is shown in our interpersonal relationships. I would imagine I am not the only person out there who has trouble with this. It is easy for us to say we appreciate and are thankful for what are partners do for us, but it is a completely different realm than showing gratitude for your partner. There is the famous quote “this to shall pass,” which many of us feel compelled to post in our homes or workspace. I think this quote qualifies as one people should read daily. Sometimes it is the lesser known quotes which hit us the hardest. Perhaps it is because it’s the first time we are hearing it, and can somehow relate to our own lives. It is as if the author is speaking directly to us, at the exact time we need to hear it.

Perhaps showing gratitude, love, appreciation, and affection is so hard for me because I do not feel that way about myself. There is a saying “you cannot love another, until you learn to love yourself.” If this were the case than I must not be thankful for my own life, keeping me from showing gratitude towards myself; although I am not sure how one would show gratitude for themselves. If this is not true than this paragraph is nonsense, and I am no closer to finding a solution to this conundrum I find myself in. Do I even know what gratitude is?

My wife always tells me the easiest way to show someone you care is by putting their needs before your own. I have difficulty achieving this because we have such different definitions of putting others before yourself. She believes this is an action done 100% of the time where I believe there needs to be a level of selfishness from time-to-time.

I do know one thing I am going to make a conscience effort to try and show my gratitude not only towards my wife, but for myself as well. If I do this though will the gratitude I have for myself result in selfishness? Do I even know the proper way to show gratitude? Is showing gratitude just giving a passionate hug, kiss on the cheek then saying thank you? I wish they would have taught things like this in school, not only gratitude, but also how to express sympathy, empathy, or even how to cry. There are times I feel really shitty about myself because these things always seem to go over my head.