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Simply Grateful – The Power of Living Thankfully

EVOLV / December 1, 2022

We make a living by what we get,

but we make a life by what we give”

– Sir Winston Churchill

Charity can create some of the most profound and impactful influences on our lives.

For me personally, I will never forget the feeling.  That feeling, not only as a surgeon but also as a father and friend, that special inner joy of every mission trip overseas as a volunteer for Operation Smile. Even in the most challenging situations in third-world countries, the personal and professional satisfaction of volunteer work, providing reconstruction for children and young adults with clefts lips, palates, and other deformities, was a feeling unlike any other. In the most difficult of times and with inadequate supplies or facilities, the power of charity provided a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and peace that must be experienced to be believed.  And in those times, we understand that all of us are connected, despite our differences in culture, politics, beliefs, or economic status, by our humanity and compassion.

It is that special and magical time of year again. Yet it is also a time of so many challenges and struggles. Inflation and economic hardship, the COVID pandemic, war and divisive politics, drug abuse, and mental illness, sometimes feel like the negativity and struggles are insurmountable and will never end.   It may seem impossible at times to find anything for which to be grateful.

But practicing gratitude can be a remarkable option to infuse positivity, hope, and perspective into our lives.  I was taught this invaluable lesson by the many children, parents, and countless local coworkers while working overseas… despite the overwhelming poverty, pain and hardship, no matter the outcome, they were amazingly humble and grateful for our efforts to help their children and our support as caring healthcare providers. I will never forget their level of humility, thankfulness, and appreciation, as well as their remarkable resilience.

Gratitude can have a significant impact not only on our mindset but also on our physical bodies and our overall well-being. Multiple studies have proven that gratitude increases our emotional resiliency helping us to better cope and adapt with the challenges constantly threatening our lives. Practicing gratitude has been shown to improve sleep, increase feelings of happiness, decrease anxiety and stress, and even reduce blood pressure.

Practicing gratitude is not just wishful thinking, it requires discipline and commitment, and a different perspective. The ‘busyness’ and stress of everyday life, most especially at this time of year, can be so distracting and even threatening, that it steals our attention and awareness from the many blessings that we may take for granted each day. Taking a posture of gratitude during a particularly difficult time in life may just prove to be a very powerful and life-changing choice. It is more difficult to dwell on personal hardships and struggles when you are focusing on the many good things and close family and friends for which you can be thankful.

Gratitude and positive thinking are a choice, and a sometimes difficult one. One of the best and most effective ways to find it, as the great Sir Winston Churchill describes above, is by giving, giving of our talents or time or care to others. The impact of charity on our lives can be profound as it enables us to be conscientious of more than just ourselves. Giving isn’t only about what it does for others, it is also about what it does for us. We all have something to donate, something to give that can make a difference in somebody’s life.

All of us at EVOLV Plastic Surgery and Medical Aesthetics are thankful for the opportunity, success, and satisfaction of making a difference for our patients and for each other.  Personally, I am especially grateful for being able to work with the most caring, compassionate, and dedicated staff that I have ever experienced.

We are all thankful for our many patients and their families and we sincerely wish all of you happiness, great health, and most of all, peace.