Growing Old Gracefully with Gratitude

Cicero, a great orator in Greece at 106-43 BC told the world about the potential in Gratitude thousands of years ago and we can benefit hugely from his advice in the 21st Century!

What did he gift to us?  He taught us about the happiness that we can create and enjoy if we build Gratitude into our life.

What is it that can be so valuable about Gratitiude?

It is the feelings of joy, excitement, appreciation, warmth, satisfaction we can build into our contact with other human beings. In our interactions with our contacts, as we meet and speak with our families, our friends, our partners, our colleagues or whoever, we have the opportunity to make them feel happy and positive about themselves, and also create enjoyment in ourselves as we convey or experience gratitude from our exchange.

Gratitude between people can enrich, can inform, can promise, can inspire, can forgive, can please.

Experiencing gratitude has the power to make us and others happier about how we work, about our exchanges, about our and their achievements, our and their kindness, and their shared experiences. No wonder Cicero’s thought can provide the greatest of all human experiences.       

What can we be Grateful for ? Here are some ways in which some people build gratitude into their life – the examples below are some ways that different people have described how they have experienced feelings of gratitude:

This list of course can be endless because each of us, in our unique life, can have many things to appreciate and be grateful for, even if sometimes we can be more conscious of our problems than our joys. What would you want to add to this list of things that you have been especially grateful for ? 

Some people have found that gratitude is such an attractive element for them in their life that they build it into a daily habit. One way of doing this is by keeping a gratitude diary. Keeping such a diary can be a way of requiring our thoughts of gratitude to become part of our everyday life.

It can simply be a special diary or note book which they can use daily or weekly to note moments of gratitude that build up special memories. The owner of the diary can start their entry with “today I am grateful for …………….” and build up a history of positive moments in an everyday life. Some diary users have a special time (say their final act in the evening before bed?). Some use their entry for special people (“ I was especially grateful today for my mother or a special friend…………………etc.)

What can be helpful is to think about what is special in terms of each day’s gratitude and remind yourself of its importance and what it means to you

One older person who celebrated their 82nd birthday turned it into a celebration of gratitude by this list of “Thank you’s”

  • “Thank you for sharing my celebration – I am very grateful you are here
  • “I have reached the age of 82 and have had many great friends who made my life very lucky and special in that time”
  • I am grateful …….to have had great parents and grandparents who were never wealthy but gave me a great start in life.”
  • “I am grateful……….that 55 years ago I was introduced to a girl called Margaret and we are still a pair
  • “I am grateful  ……. that I have 6 very grown-up children who have given me lots of happiness (and a few challenges at times !) and now give me 12 grandchildren who make me very happy
  • “I am grateful …..that I have longstanding friends in north and south who are loyal and great company
  • “I am grateful …. that we have enjoyed walking and travelling and are still able to do some of that
  • “I am grateful ….. we have had a house that we bought very cheaply some 50 years ago and we can still live in it
  • “I am grateful ….. that you made my birthday very special by being here

“Gratitude is infectious and contagious. It builds on peoples’ strengths and generosity. It creates well-being and even happiness. It is hugely valuable and important”


‘Here is a one-sentence formula for becoming a grateful person:

Think, Speak, and Act like a grateful person does’.

Rabbi Zelig Pilskin in his book ‘Thank you!: Gratitude: Formulas, Stories and Insights’

Michael Scally is from Leeds, born on Halton Moor; he taught for many years and is the author of  a number of books with Barrie Hopson including ‘Build your own Rainbow’ and ‘Lifeskills Teaching‘. He is now gratefully retired.

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