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Some of you reading this may have had a parent or grandparent who encouraged you to count your blessings every day. Some, like me, will consider this to have been good advice. However, it is also likely that some will say ‘You wouldn’t say that if you were in my shoes.’ Or ‘What have I got to be thankful for?’. It’s not difficult to think of the circumstances that could trigger this kind of response: isolation, living with a physical or cognitive impairment that is becoming progressively worse, such as motor neurone disease, MS, dementia, or gradual loss of sight or hearing.
Many are struggling with isolation at the moment, but for some it is a more permanent and distressing condition although if you are reading this you are part of a community. Even though our own experiences may not be as severe as some of the examples given, there are still times when it is difficult to be positive and finding reasons to be thankful takes a bit more effort. Thinking about TV or radio programmes that are interesting, amusing or enjoyable is an easy starting point, and the same can be said about books, music, film and art. But, what about more meaningful things? Do you remember the last time someone gave you a warm, smiling greeting, even though they thought that you may be in a grumpy mood, or the last time someone did something for you not because they thought that they should, but because they wanted to? Who did you turn to for help or advice when you were younger, maybe a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, or even a best friend’s mum or dad; what advice would they give you now? What was your own last good deed, and how did you feel afterwards?
Sometimes memories remain frustratingly obscure, but what were the things that you can recall with a smile? One of mine is riding a cow and being visited the next day by the local Bobby as the farmer who owned the cow wasn’t amused. I can also tell you that growing up in the countryside you know that electric fences used by farmers, aren’t lethal but they are effective and you don’t need to pee on an electric fence twice be sure of the effect. Most of us have amusing anecdotes to tell, but, surely our achievements are more important, the things that we are proud of, things that may seem trivial to others, but for us it is something that we had to work for. You may not have children or grandchildren to whom you can pass on your memories, but your achievements and experiences can be a rich source of reasons to be thankful.
One final thought, if you have ever asked ‘Why am I here, what’s the point of it all?’ you might like to consider this: ‘We live in an imperfect world, what can I do to make it better?’.
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