When asked to write a brief article on what gratitude means to me, I accepted with the thought that it would be an easy assignment, which I could complete in no time. I was wrong. On the surface gratitude seemed simple and easily explained, but a deeper look threw me into the complexity of what gratitude represents and how it impacts our society.
In writing this article, I wanted to start with the question of what this character trait truly means. There is the general understanding of the definition of the word: Gratitude as defined by Webster’s Dictionary: “A feeling of appreciation or thanks and the state of being grateful.” So let’s think of gratitude as saying “thank you” to the person that helps pick up the papers you dropped in the hallway; as a head nod and smile when someone holds the door for you; as a simple gift to a co-worker for his or her effort. Is that all there is to it? There has to be more to gratitude than simple pleasantries. After additional thought, I realized that there are multiple layers as to how gratitude is expressed and its impact on society. For example, gratitude can be shared and expressed by millions through our support for those who serve in the military. Or it can be very private and unspoken as often happens with an organ recipient. It can be expressed in self-reflection in appreciation for life’s simple gifts. People often show true gratitude by giving of their time or monetary support, because it is voluntary and unconditional, and it should be given without obligation or expectation. As a recipient, there is a feeling of an oddly reverse gratitude that can be awkward and uncomfortable to convey, because it can be difficult to accept gratitude from strangers or even someone close.
As an employee of Avista Utilities, I’m fortunate to be given the opportunity to show my gratitude toward the communities I serve. Avista is overflowing with employees who dedicate themselves to community service in ways that are inspirational and contagious. In 2014, their generosity resulted in more than 48,000 hours of volunteer service to more than 800 organizations across our service territory. This expression of gratitude has gone on for years and will continue for years to come. Recent research from The University of Michigan showed that “cultivating feelings of gratitude and generosity can have a profound effect on mental and physical wellbeing of those who give. People who donate their time doing volunteer work experience reduced stress, an enhanced sense of purpose and even greater longevity”.
In the end, I found that the virtue of gratitude is very complex. It means something very different to everyone, but it is a virtue that everyone can exemplify and appreciate.
Quotes that stood-out while researching this unique character trait:
“It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy”. Author unknown.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others”. – Cicero
(Originally published in 2015.)
Todd Kiesbuy is a Regional Business Manager for Avista Corp located in Spokane, Washington. His areas of responsibility include the Spokane Valley and the West Plains. Todd has been with Avista for 11 years and started in the emergency dispatch department, later becoming a Construction Design Coordinator. Kiesbuy serves on the PACE Board, City of Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the Board of Natural Resources for Kootenai County.