The act of gratitude – of acknowledgement and appreciation of the mundane to the extraordinary – has been valued by early philosophers like Cicero and Seneca the Younger to present-day neuroscientists and millions in between.
Dr. Robert Emmons has studied the effects of gratitude on physical health, on psychological well-being, and on our relationships with others for decades. He posits that the feeling of gratitude involves two stages:
- The acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make worth living, and rich in texture. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.
- The recognition that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. One can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not unto oneself. At this stage, we recognize the goodness in our lives and whom to thank for it.
Understanding that this has been an extremely challenging year for the world, our country, the nonprofit sector, and for our employees, I posed the question internally, “What you’re thankful for in this most deeply upside-down year?” The answers were honest expressions of gratitude and it is a joy to share these.
“Especially given the year that 2020 has dealt us, I’m grateful for a number of things. First, for the health and well-being of my family while so many others have not been as fortunate. Second, for the gift of my Fionta family who unfailingly does the hard work necessary to help our clients succeed. And finally I’m grateful for a renewed hope that next year will bring back the civility, attention to important issues, and respect for others that we’ve sorely missed the past several years.” – Mark P.
“I’m thankful that I’m still employed, and able to pay my rent and feed my family, without having to risk my entire household catching COVID. I’m also thankful for my cat, who refuses to accept that I might need social contact with other humans, when he’s RIGHT HERE hanging out with me all the time.” – Lisa G.
“I am very thankful that we have a new administration in 2020.” – Lisa R.
“The NHL playoff bubble.” – Max P.
“I married my husband in October of 2019, so the majority of our first year of marriage has been navigating this stressful and difficult pandemic. I’m grateful for this because it’s really reinforced our compatibly and partnership. We both feel like we’ll be able to navigate whatever the future holds, together. I’m also grateful that the pandemic forced me to slow down, step back, and focus on the direction of my career. This led me to a wonderful new company, filled with amazing team members, and fulfilling work!” – Cooper W.
“I’m super grateful for my pandemic bubble – this year would have been extremely hard without our little cul-de-sac community. I’m also extremely grateful to have had the ability to find the silver lining in a layoff, it allowed be the time to get my kids through their first digital school year, and to really hone and focus on where I wanted to land next. I’m thankful I’ve gotten the opportunity at Fionta to continue having a positive impact in the nonprofit field.” – Dana P.
“I’m grateful for my neighbors. We’ve also discovered each other during this pandemic, having wine together at night, across a 20ft road from each other, rotating around each other’s back yards with our kids to keep them engaged. People really care for each other here, and I truly feel like I am part of a community in a way I don’t think I would have discovered without this terrible thing.” – Erika M.
“I am extremely grateful for my wife and the life we have built with our two fur babies. We got married 5 years ago in November and to be able to celebrate our 5th Thanksgiving together is a wonderful gift.” – Gale M.
“I am super grateful to Fionta for keeping us employed during these harsh times and for adding paternity leave! Without the leave, my wife and I would’ve struggled without much family and friends around to support. Also, I am grateful to all the doctors, nurses, and pediatrics at the hospital for delivering our baby girl and taking care of the mother.” – Hassan E.
“I am thankful for therapy!” – Kailee Q.
“I’m also thankful for therapy! And Los Angeles weather and blue skies, a pretty good night’s sleep, and the smell of coffee in the kitchen.” – Karin T.
“In thinking about it, I’m almost embarrassed at how much I have to be thankful. We’re all healthy and still have our jobs. I work in a wonderful, supportive environment with people who always go above and beyond. On a fun note, I’m thankful for kittens. They have been a constant source of entertainment for us in these long days at home.” – Katie J.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the Fionta team. It’s been incredible to watch us come together to support each other and our clients, especially during a year that has been so trying and isolating for many. I am also very grateful for my neighbor Joy who (from a safe distance) has been a rock for me when home felt far away. Her name is so fitting — she brings such joy to this world!” – Katy B.