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Have an attitude of gratitude

Dr. Amy Vail
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Random acts of kindness aren't for angels only.
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As we transition into 2009, many people are making New Year’s resolutions. I often hear, “I want to loose 10 pounds;” “I want to exercise more and eat less;” “I am going to stop smoking and indulge my vices less.” However, most of us know that these ideas, while made with good intentions, rarely last past February. The common thread in the above list is that they are all wants and are for the benefit of the person making the resolution. It is uncommon to hear someone say, “My New Year’s resolution is to volunteer more. I am going to work on being grateful for what I have and work on wanting less. I am going to be kinder to my self and my fellow humans. I am going to work on being more patient with others and myself.”

We as a culture have been incredibly focused on getting what we want and have lost focus of what we actually need. This can be seen in our increasing consumerist tendencies, which have contributed greatly to the current economic stress that many of us are experiencing. More and more, we feel disconnected from our own lives and communities. We feel dissatisfaction instead of fulfilled in our lives and our relationships.

The transition into 2009 gives us the opportunity to change how we think. It can be a motivating force for us to take a look at changing our perceptions. We have the opportunity to shift the focus from what we want to what we need, to change the focus from what we are lacking to appreciating what we have. We have the ability to make the world a better place by being more present to those around us, and building better relationships.

As a culture, we have the have the opportunity to embrace the attitude of gratitude.

By changing our perceptions, which all of us have the power to accomplish, we can move forward more into a more person-centered and less materialistic way of being in the world.

If all of us took a few minutes each day to go out of our way for other people, the power of kindness and thoughtfulness will move forward, and more people, including ourselves, may start to feel better about ourselves, our situations in life and our relationships.

The math is pretty simple and the numbers are impressive.

If 500 people resolved to do three kind acts to the people they interact with on a daily basis, that would equal 1,500 acts of random kindness a day. If each of those people completed that for one week, that would be 10,500 kind acts. If they each did that every day for a month, we would have 42,000 additional acts of kindness a month; for a year, 504,000 kind acts.

Many of us pride ourselves in living in a beautiful town and having a tight-knit community. Imagine how much better all of our lives and relationships could be if we all worked toward being our personal best every day and put some good positive energy into our relationships.

So the next time someone says to you “What difference can I make?,” think forward to the world you want to live in and about the relationships you want to have and take the steps necessary to create a better world for everyone.

I know what my resolution for 2009 will be. Please join me in creating a better world, one random, thoughtful act of kindness at a time.

” Dr. Amy Vail, Psy.D, is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with a private practice in Squaw Valley and Tahoe City. Dr. Vail may be reached at 581-2539.

The proper fit for volunteer opportunities within the Tahoe Truckee region is a few mouse clicks away.

The Community Collaborative of Tahoe-Truckee (CCTT) is a regional collaborative comprised of community advocates and service providers from the Truckee Tahoe area that vision and work together to create a safe and healthy environment for children, youth, and families. Visit http://www.communitycollaborative.org, CCTT’s Web site, for information about the Family Resource Centers of Truckee and North Tahoe, Project MANA, the regional hunger relief agency, Sierra Senior Services, SWEP, Head Start, and many more.

Hands on Tahoe was developed in collaboration with the Truckee Tahoe Community Foundation to connect volunteers with non-profit groups from the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee areas. They help those who’d like to volunteer find ways to get involved with their community and non-profit organizations looking for volunteers find the help they need. They can even help local organizations who’d like to sponsor a group or team find appropriate opportunities. Visit http://handsontahoe.org to find your volunteering niche.

Random acts of kindness go a long way. Your generousity does not need to fit into a volunteering box, either. Open your eyes and your heart, and your head will find the path. During these bitter cold days and nights, think about your senior neighbors. This time of year, older folks are more supsecptiable to hypothermia and slips and falls. These are serious threats to our senior population. Do you live by or know of a senior who could use a helping hand? Shovel and de-ice their driveway, donate a bit of wood, or help keep their home fires burning. Ask if you could pick up a thing or two at the store or drop by the pharmacy for a neighbor in need. A simple trip for you can save a senior the potential danger of a bone-breaking slip.


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