Welcome to my blog and to my first posting. It seems appropriate that my first should occur on Thanksgiving weekend, a time to reflect on the many things for which I am grateful, especially the new focus in my life, ContemplAgeing (pronounced CON-TEM-PLAY-JING).
ContemplAgeing is an integration of three very important areas of my personal and professional life: my work as a clinical psychologist and my interest in mental health; my interest in aging, my own and others, gerontology; and my lifelong, ongoing spiritual life. (See my website for more about the origins of ContemplAgeing. Go to my website, www.contemplAgeing.com, and see the Home Page).
Gratitude is a gift my father gave me from the very beginning of my life in our family. Despite not having a lot he always felt there would be enough and was thankful for what he had. One particular episode highlighted his sense of gratitude for me. I vividly recall attending a religious service with my father and mother when I was at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, MA. My spiritual director, Joe, led the service for the four of us in a small chapel.
At one point, during silence and reflection on the readings for the day, my father began sobbing and blowing his nose loudly. Joe asked him what was going on, and my father responded, “Sometimes you forget how fortunate you are.” Joe pointed out to me that my father had the gift for which I had been hoping, the gift of tears, tears of gratitude, a gift that Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, had in abundance.
In the years since then I have become increasingly aware of the importance of gratitude in my life, a sense that has grounded me through difficult times. I have also discovered that I am not alone in this appreciation. All religious traditions and spiritual practices point to the importance and centrality of this attitude of gratitude.
The field of psychology, too, is replete with research on the effects of gratitude on quality of life and sense of well-being.
Years ago I began to encourage and cultivate this attitude among the people with whom I work in individual therapy, couples’ therapy, and group therapy. One fruit of this focus was a piece entitled “Searching for the Curative Power of Gratitude and Forgiveness in Groups” (2005).
You can read this article by going to www.contemplAgeing.com and looking under the “Publications” Tab.
These are some of my preliminary thoughts on the topic of gratitude. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts and ideas. Also, I welcome any of your comments and questions.
Tags: aging, Gratitude, spirituality, Thanksgiving