Mark Craemer No Comments

This is the time of year when we gather to give thanks—primarily to those with whom we have close relationships. Perhaps we should extend this gratitude to our colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances, and even to strangers in our workplace, community and throughout our country. It’s good for your health and the health of our country.

The gratitude I speak of is not as deep as that reserved for family members and close friends, but appreciation, nevertheless. We can choose to see others as we see ourselves: no better or no worse, yet all of us flawed in perfectly human ways. We all have virtues and vices, gifts and challenges, hopes and dreams. Though we may look, sound and act very differently, we all share a common humanity.

As human beings we share not only biology, but also a desire for a long and happy life. A life that deserves respect regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual preference, or political affiliation. At this time of especially partisan tribalism, it’s time to focus not on what divides us but what can unite us.  

Begin by learning to see and respect what we have in common rather than what separates us. See that we are more alike than we are different. See that we are all in this together. That our actions—whether good or not so good—have an impact on others.

Then choose to be kind. Choose to smile. Choose to use your turn signal. Choose to engage in a helpful manner. Engage in a way that transcends social media “likes.” Begin where you are in whatever way you can. But begin today by expressing gratitude for our shared good fortune at being alive and sharing this planet.

Evidence shows that people who see and appreciate the positives in life are more likely to avoid psychological distress.  Expressing gratitude can help reduce your risk of depression, anxiety and drug abuse. And it’s really simple to acknowledge what you’re grateful for. Think about three things each night before falling asleep.

Better yet, tell someone you appreciate something they’ve done. You’ll feel better. They’ll feel better. And quite possibly that person may pay it forward by passing along gratitude to others.

We live at a time when far too many countries and corporations are gaining power and making money over our infighting and divisiveness. Don’t allow this behavior to weigh you down and make you bitter. Take a break from (anti-)social media and find a way to connect in real time and space with others.

Thank you for reading this post. Happy Thanksgiving.

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