Jody Moss - "Seniors Sunset Times - Clallam County Edition

Express Gratitude Every Day

January 2, 2020


By: Jody Moss



My father use to say, “Getting old isn’t for cowards.”

We walk slower, our memory slips a little, our eyes don’t work, our hearing is going, we can’t find our keys – actually that has been happening for years! Our knees, hips, shoulders, feet, hands, back, neck…okay, our entire body hurts!

Different things keep breaking. And we all know it isn’t coming back.  Sure, I can exercise more, and regain muscle and balance, but I’m never going to be getting those years back, and each year now is going to deliver some new variation on the theme of aging isn’t for sissies!

And now we enter the season of the holidays, the season of gratitude.  For this you want me to be thankful!?!  In Yiddish, “You want I should be thankful?!?

But thankfulness, the actual practice of daily expressions of gratitude can transform our lives.

If you search the internet you will find a growing body of evidence, hard scientific evidence, of the impacts of gratitude.  Here is a list of the benefits with a list of the websites at the end of this article.


  • Opens the door to more relationships.
  • Improves physical health.
  • Improves psychological health.
  • Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  • Improves self-esteem.
  • Increases mental strength.
  • Helps us feel better about our life.
  • Increases optimism.
  • Increases our “happiness score.”
  • Can improve our marital or significant other relationship.
  • Empowers employees and makes us more successful.
  • Unshackles us from toxic emotions.
  • Helps even if we don’t share it (as in write a grateful letter but do not send it.)
  • Has lasting effects on the brain – actually measured by brain scans.
  • Makes other people like us.
  • Makes us healthier.
  • Boosts our careers.
  • Strengthens our positive emotions and reduces negative emotions.
  • Develops our personality.
  • Reduces materialism.
  • Increases spiritualism.
  • Makes us less self-centered.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Keeps us away from the doctor.
  • Increases longevity.
  • Increases our energy level.
  • Makes us more likely to exercise.
  • Helps us bounce back.
  • Makes us feel good.
  • Makes our memories happier.
  • Reduces feelings of envy.
  • Helps us relax.
  • Makes us friendlier.
  • Makes us look good.
  • Helps us make friends.
  • Deepens friendships.
  • Makes us more effective managers.
  • Helps us network.
  • Increases our goal achievement.
  • Improves decision making.
  • Increases productivity.
  • Improves educational outcomes.


Wow! We would be crazy not to engage in gratitude every single day!  I wonder if it will make me lose weight?  Well, why not!


So all the above is well and good but what do we mean by practicing gratitude.  We need a Gratitude Primer.  Below are some ideas from various articles.

Wake up and notice – Wake up and notice that you are in a bed, that you are alive, that you have food and warmth and a home, running water, and a toilet.  Think real basics. Think about how marvelous it is that our body still works, that our blood flows through our arteries and veins and that our brains work so well (well most of the time anyway).

Take an “Awe Walk” – Go outside (which we already know is good for us), and look around as if you are just discovering how incredible the world is.  Listen to the sounds of nature.  Appreciate a bird.  A little girl in front of me at Wal-Mart saw two humming birds flying around in the skylight.  It was so cool that she noticed them and that we were able to marvel at them (and hope they are able to escape that little space when it gets dark and the skylight is less of a hummingbird draw).

Gratitude Meditation – 10 minutes a day– Reflect on the gifts in your life, the people you love, and the passing ones you have had the opportunity to meet.  The very gift of life itself.  How precious that is.  The gift of children, yours or others, who bring joy to those around them. Think about how marvelous this world we have created is, that we can go to a store and get what we need, that we have had jobs and have loved being part of something bigger, that someone created a computer and the internet, email and yes, even Facebook.  That we have a postal service that delivers mail, even junk, and maybe a package or two.  That we can go visit a museum and see art and other beautiful things, that music exists and brings us joy.

Make Giving a Gift – Give of yourself to others either in time or treasure and teach your loved ones to do so as well.  This can be charity giving or actual gift giving.  I love giving gifts, picking out or making something special for someone.  I also love helping others – become a hero to someone.  You will gain so much more than you could believe possible.  And it can be something as easy as volunteering to read to children at a school or the library, or cooking for a friend.

Three Good Things – Think of three good things each day.  Help children practice this as a way to improve their lives.  Help students do this in a school setting.

Shared Identity or Common Ground – Think about people in your life who are very different from you.  Perhaps they have different interests, religious beliefs or political views.  Make a list of all the ways you are the same, all the things you have in common; you love food, have children, care about the community, had a broken heart at one time.  Review this list every time you meet this person, or complete this exercise when you meet someone new who is very different and perhaps makes you uncomfortable.  Do you feel differently about them afterwards?

Make a Connection – Make a plan to connect with a random stranger (well not too random), have a conversation with someone you do not know or rarely speak to more than to say hello. Don’t force the conversation.  Be ready with your questions – “what do you like to do for fun?”, “where are you from?” and be sure to listen and ask follow up conversations.  You might walk away with a new friend.

Write a thank-you note. We have all moved away from thank you notes but doing this even once a month helps you and helps the person receiving the note.

Thank someone mentally. Short on time – do it in your head.  Research show that even if you write a note and don’t send it, it makes a difference.  I often think about how wonderful my family and spread out friends are – now I’ll just add that as a thankful activity.

Keep a gratitude journal. Buy a pretty one or just a spiral notebook and write in it every day, even if it is only one line…”I am grateful to have this article completed early this month.”

Moving from Negative to Positive – If you have been thinking about something that went wrong, visualize it in your head as if it happened to another person.  Describe the details.  I would ask, “Now why does Jody feel that way?” “What are the causes and reasons for her feelings?”  This may give you the distance you need and make you feel differently about the incident.  With practice you can even do this in real time reducing the impact of stressful situations.

Subtract and add back in a Relationship – Think about someone you care about and how you might never have met them.  Think through when you first met them and what could have gone wrong so that they are not in your life.  Now remind yourself that you did meet them and remember all the positives that knowing them has brought to you.

Good News – Ask a friend to tell you good news.  Go into detail and appreciate their experience with them.

Imagine a Relationship Better – Think about a relationship you have that isn’t exactly how you want it.  Now think in a positive manner on what that relationship would be like if it was perfect or even just better.  Be very specific and describe exactly what it would look like.  Writing can help this process, but you are doing this just for you.

Personal Strengths – Write down your many different personal strengths.  Now think about how you are going to use a personal strength today.  Use that strength as many times as you can throughout the day.  Try this activity every day for a week.

Here are my source websites – and my own brain of course which after writing this great article is just bubbling over with positivity.  We often scoff at self-help books and self-help gurus, but science does not lie.  We all need a dose of gratitude, self-love, and loving others.

Gratitude Exercises:

Jody Moss is the Director of Contracts Management & Planning for the Olympic Area Agency on Aging and can be reached at 360-379-5064.  For help with senior or adults with disability questions call Information and Assistance at 360-452-3221 in Clallam and 360-385-2552 in Jefferson.