Michael J. Readinger

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am moved to express gratitude for all the good that has been happening in my world. Granted, life is not perfect and many things in our society need to be healed/fixed/corrected/abolished. But, being grateful and expressing gratitude are known to make everyone feel better. A five-minute-a-day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent. That’s the same impact as doubling your income! Gratitude generates social capital. Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriages. Gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years. The list of benefits goes on and on. Check out the 31 Benefits of Gratitude website for more details.

I am grateful for my family and friends. They stand up for me and to me. They have been with me through thick and thin, good times and bad. I am blessed to still have 7 siblings and two generations of their offspring. I have hundreds of cousins, second cousins and third cousins across the country. My best friends have been by my side for 30, 40, 44 and 47 years!

I thank God for the gift of relatively good health. I am able to work out and do everything I want to as far as activities and getting around. I can see, eat, smell, feel and hear (well, that maybe slipping a little).

I am blessed to be a member of an amazing faith community at Amistad Chapel UCC, a small and mighty congregation that is present and active in the city and in the wider church. I am also a part of the larger community of the UCC in all its various settings.

I treasure the gift of my work at CHHSM. Our members continue to transform, innovate and faithfully serve their constituents with grace. Our Board is committed and dedicated to our mission, vision, values and value proposition. Our staff is working hard every day so that we can remain relevant, connected and sustainable. All of this is so that together we can create a just, caring and compassionate world.

I am fortunate to have a safe and comfortable place to live. There’s food on the table, clothes in the closet, a car in the garage, and we never have to choose between filling a prescription or filling our bellies.

In spite of the amount of time I spend on the road for work travel, I also have the opportunity to make some great trips for fun and vacation. It is a privilege to be able to afford the time away from work and the expense required in order to go places.

Finally, and with the greatest relief of all, I am grateful that I do not waste my time worrying about the things that I do not have to worry about. If there is anything that you take away from this column, I hope it is this: Don’t fill space in your brain with wasted worries when you can fill your heart with gratitude.

Many of you are aware that I started writing and posting a daily reflection on December 1, 2018, as a celebration of Advent. It was an intentional exercise that was meant to be a way to help me center myself and think about the Christmas season. It was also partly my rejection of the commercialization of the holidays (Christmas decorations up at Halloween???). I really enjoyed these times of reflection and the way I felt as I read them again later. It was not about the “likes,” “shares” or comments — it was about how it made me feel and that is why I never stopped. On January 1, 2019, I started a daily Facebook blog — a FLOG — that had no set theme or format. Sometimes it was about family and friends, or a vacation, or work, or church, or the weather, or any random idea that popped up. But for the new year, my daily FLOG will be focused on gratitude. I will concentrate on sharing the things that touch my life and say thank you. Every. Single. Day. Gratitude!

Will you join me in this daily mindfulness practice?