According to researchers at the University of California, Davis, we’re actually “wired” to become more grateful as we grow older.
That’s because the part of the brain active in emotions and memory responds less to negativity and reacts more to positivity as the years roll by. And increased positivity produces greater likelihood of us feeling gratitude, the researchers say.
So much for “grumpy old men!”
Of course, at the age of 81, I confess I don’t leap out of bed every morning singing the Hallelujah Chorus. But I do feel a more acute level of thankfulness for things I took for granted 40 or 50 years ago.
As I look back, I see how the march of time has had a profound impact on the way I feel gratitude for simple things. A meal with family, a walk in nature, a beautiful sunset, a time of quiet prayer, another day of life.
I even find myself using words like “blessed” and “fortunate” more often. Psychologists say using a “vocabulary of gratefulness” may put you in the mood to be even more thankful.
Gratitude Is A Choice
At my age, I appreciate every day I’m given as a true gift from above. I choose to be grateful for every moment God gives me.
In my twenties, I viewed time as limitless. Now I’m fully aware the clock is ticking. Time is short. Life is fragile. And that makes it even more precious, and worthy of greater thankfulness. Each new daybreak brings another opportunity to live life to the full.
Of course, life is also fraught with challenges, difficulties and -- yes -- deep sorrows. But if we purposefully choose to adopt an attitude of gratitude in all circumstances, even negative ones, the benefits are life-transforming.
Gratitude Can ‘Boost Your Immune System?’
Can being grateful really help prevent catching the flu?
According to research, the benefits of living with a consistently thankful attitude not only include a stronger immune system and better cholesterol levels but also reduced stress levels, fewer episodes of anxiety and depression, improved sleep quality, higher self-esteem, and less chance of suffering burnout.
The National Council On Aging also concludes people with higher levels of gratitude tend to be more socially connected, demonstrating character strengths and virtues such as empathy, patience and humility.
Gratitude in the Here and Now
As the founder of the Retirement Reformation movement, I meet people from all walks of life in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and even 90s. I perceive -- and understand -- their inbuilt sense that time is their most valuable asset. They’re focused on goals they can achieve in the here and now, not some distant dream. And when those goals are realized, their feeling of gratitude is palpable.
Could I suggest that if you’re over 50, every single day is a fresh opportunity to be thankful for your blessings and the positive difference you can make in someone’s life here and now?
For those of us who are driven by a personal faith in God, our gratefulness for his gifts of family, love and life can be expressed in our service to him and others, especially during our retirement years, our “homeward stretch.”
Gratitude Cannot Wait
There’s no time to waste. God has a purposeful role for you now if you’ll seek his meaningful direction for the remaining days he’s so generously blessed you with.
Don’t wait! Get on the Gratitude Express! Our Retirement Reformation community would love to help and encourage you on your journey of grateful, purposeful living.
Remember: you’re “wired” for gratefulness. So let your gratitude and thankfulness shine out to all those around you and see how it lights up their lives. It’s contagious!
Bruce Bruinsma is the founder and leader of Retirement Reformation -- a movement that seeks to encourage and empower the 50 million Americans approaching or in retirement to embrace the calling God has been preparing them for.