In just the past few months, the US has witnessed an extraordinary number of horrific events, from the California wildfires to the hurricanes that devastated Houston, South Florida and Puerto Rico.
Life is uncertain, and acts of Nature beyond our control. What we can control is how we treat those with whom we interact, because in a world defined by unpredictability, we never know when a seemingly sublime life could be turned upside down.
This month invites us to give thanks for the gifts all around us — not what we can buy at the mall the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year.
Traditionally, Thanksgiving was a time to express gratitude for the prior year’s harvest. My digital thesaurus offers both “adequate” and “ample” as synonyms for “enough”; in other words, sufficiency and plenty simultaneously. Perhaps the definition depends on how grateful we are for gifts already received: gratitude itself is a form of largesse. Being thankful shifts our focus from lack to abundance, and aligns (or realigns) us with our values.
Gratitude Attitude Redux
LeeAnn Womack’s lyrics to I Hope You Dance define the original Thanksgiving spirit:
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
Get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…
I hope you dance!
Indigenous cultures, such as the Native Americans who inspired America’s Thanksgiving mythos, model Womack’s words. People who live close to Nature haven’t lost touch with their own nature. The philosophy “unto the seventh generation” holds that in all of our decisions, we should consider the impact seven generations in the future (approximately 140 years, not 140 characters!). It’s a concept of long-range thinking often lost in a culture of immediacy and Trenta “cups” of coffee.
In contrast to our comfortable homes, cars, and conveniences, people in developing nations may own little and live simply. Yet they are lit from within by a radiant joy that serves their highest good, no matter what the season.
Womack’s words speak to this “something beyond”. It’s what’s been brought to the forefront everywhere these past few months, as people stripped to the core respond with extraordinary empathy from wide-open hearts.
How does this perspective affect the way you relate to the seniors with whom you’ve done business — or not? Maybe someone gave you a great referral, but is not a client. Or perhaps you met with a lovely couple that feels a HECM is not the right fit for them at this juncture, but might be interested in the future — or prove to be an excellent referral resource. How do you thank these people, and keep them on your radar?
Even more crucially: what about those seniors who do not appear to be of any business benefit to you? Do you treat them with as much recognition and kindness as clients and prospects?
Life is fluid, the more so these days than ever before. One moment someone could be living a beautiful retirement lifestyle; the next, they could be hit by fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tornado…
It’s easy to show gratitude: a quick call, an email, a snail-mail card if you’re so inspired, can make an elder’s day, week, or month. If you have the time and space to hold an open house, a daytime gathering with simple snacks and non-alcoholic beverages will be most welcome. For some, it might be the only holiday celebration they attend.
It behooves us all to show our gratitude, not only at Thanksgiving, but every day. Your appreciation could be precisely the gift a senior needs now.