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Rethinking gratitude

“No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” Alfred North Whitehead

As we round the corner between autumn and the advent of the holiday season, I suddenly find myself thinking about the word gratitude.

When I am developing a theme for an article, I normally try to steer clear of overused (and often misused) buzz words being thrown about by social-media influencers but today I am making an exception because we are living in an exceptional time.

Case in point. I was raised in a land where big round turkeys were overflowing freezer bins in every local grocery store at this time of year but this past weekend (in the midst of a global turkey shortage – no, I’m not kidding) I was thankful just to be able to find a box of frozen turkey burgers to use to prepare a holiday meal.

In the past this might have thrown my meal planning into a cookbook throwing tizzy, but no more. This year I popped the box into my shopping cart without a moment’s hesitation.

But as I negotiated my way through the grocery checkout it suddenly struck me just how different saying thanks and being thankful actually are.

Saying thanks is something we teach our toddlers to do – an antiquated social requirement uttered by people everywhere in countless situations without thinking about it. Occasionally it is grunted begrudgingly or sarcastically to mark the conclusion of an interaction that we aren’t thankful for at all.

Being truly thankful (or grateful) however, is something that comes from a different place inside you. It is not so much something you say, it is something you feel.

And yet when the feeling of thankfulness wells up inside you, you can hardly stop the words from flowing out. It is often a heartfelt, incoherent string of words strung together in a vain effort to convey the impact that an experience has had upon you and frequently accompanied by a grand gesture so over the top it bewilders the recipient with its elaborateness.

In the new normal I find my perspective permanently altered. I hardly miss many of the things I once deemed essential. More and more it is the little things – like watching the sun rise, or eating lunch in the shade of a tree, or the look on my dog’s face whenever I return home – that make me realise just how much there is to be thankful for; things my younger self took for granted.

It goes without saying that this year, simply to be healthy and safe when so much of the rest of the world is in chaos means more than I ever thought possible.

But what I am most grateful for is all of you who make space in your day to read and share this column and encourage me to continue to do what I do – to explore and grow and seek to touch the lives of as many people around the world as possible.

Robin Trimingham is the managing director of The Olderhood Group Ltd and a business consultant, journalist, podcaster and thought leader in the fields of life transition and change management. Connect with Robin at https://bit.ly/3nSMlvc or robin@olderhood.com

There is a difference being saying thanks and being thankful, Robin Trimingham says

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Published October 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm (Updated October 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm)

Rethinking gratitude

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