Point of View: Creating a culture of gratitude

As 2018 comes to a close, it is a time when many reflect on the past year. Looking back on 2018 I realize that there were many losses experienced here in our close-knit community. Active and engaged community members who impacted the lives of many passed away. The impact of these individuals was demonstrated by celebrations of life that were standing room only.

At one such event I was touched by the stories and sharing and the sheer impact one person had on the lives of so many. I reflected on how that individual had impacted my life. Most powerful was the realization that I had never told that person how much they had inspired me. I had never expressed my awe and appreciation to that person. Did they know how much they had affected me and others? Did they ever hear these stories of appreciation from those who knew and loved them?

The loss of this particular person was a wake-up call that made me realize the importance of expressing appreciation to those who have impacted our lives, giving gratitude to those individuals while they are still with us, not waiting to voice and share our stories after they are gone. How great would it be if we could create a culture of gratitude, consistently appreciating others throughout the smaller communities we are a part of?

At the most recent MAPP community meeting we attempted to capture appreciation of impactful people and organizations. We set up a place to submit “Public Accolades,” a chance to acknowledge people and entities that inspire us and that we have gratitude for. There were a handful submitted. But the ones that were submitted were heartfelt and authentic. A few of them follow:

To: Spirit of Homer

Why: We may not know what it is, where it came from, or why we are blessed with it, but thank you for somehow sprinkling your magic throughout our community to give us the support needed to heal and grow in all our dimensions of wellness.

To: Alcoholics Anonymous

Why: Local alcoholics in recovery have two to three meetings per day, every day, 365 days per year as a place for struggling alcoholics to recover.

To: The Dolmas

Why: They epitomize that MAPP is about community members – Not agencies. Thank you for contributing persistently, consistently, and enthusiastically.

I love this idea of creating a culture of gratitude. I think we will add this practice to the check-in at the beginning of our Girl Scout meetings, alongside the well-established “Roses and Thorns” – a reflection on the best and worst parts of our day.

And as we look to 2019 may we all resolve to be active participants in creating a culture of gratitude. May we acknowledge the light in each other and verbalize what we appreciate about one another. This simple practice could help us all to live in gratitude, build relationships, and strengthen our community.

Hannah Gustafson is the MAPP (Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships) Coordinator. MAPP is a local health improvement coalition with the vision of a proactive, resilient and innovative community.