“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” –William Arthur Ward
As the winter rains approach and the air turns chilly, we turn our attention toward the holiday season and reflect on those that hold special places in our hearts and mind. The Thanksgiving holiday is a time to take a few moments to appreciate those who make our lives better or our jobs easier. At our School, we have a unique perspective on gratitude from watching the animals we treat heal or from receiving the appreciation expressed by the owners who love them. We are privileged to support a mission that addresses societal needs through our education of the next generation, through our research discoveries and through our service to our communities.
I recently had the great pleasure to see Dean and Denise Tracy, clients of our Large Animal Clinic and owners of an animal sanctuary. In 2017, they brought Shrek, the mini-horse, to our clinic to have a large growth on his jaw examined. It kept him from eating and he was miserable. Thankfully, it was not cancerous and the veterinary team was able to remove part of Shrek’s lower mandible. In the process of Shrek’s stay, the Tracys became familiar with our dedicated staff and students, but noticed they were tired and hungry after a full day of clinical duty. To express their gratitude Dean and Denise started bringing dinner to our staff and students on a weekly basis.
Dean and Denise have dedicated their time, energy, and land to rescuing horses like Shrek, who would otherwise be without homes and possibly be euthanized. They have turned their generosity into action by pairing these rescued animals into therapy animals to comfort humans in need. In turn, the horses have touched their lives showing them the power of the human-animal bond. In giving back through their generous acts, the Tracys demonstrate that giving of oneself in the service to others returns to the giver more than thought possible, amplifying our sense of humanity and purpose.
The health benefits of gratitude are well established. The simple act of showing appreciation has been shown to draw us closer together. Grateful people report feeling healthier than other people, and are more likely to take care of their health. The feeling of gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. People who express their gratitude are less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback, and have a decreased desire to seek revenge. When you feel grateful for what you have, you are less likely to feel resentment for what is lacking in your life or for what is possessed by others. In addition, gratitude has been found to be a major contributor to resilience, helping us through tough times.
As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, take a moment to think of those that have contributed to your life or work, and thank them. Tell them how their actions have made your life better or helped you out in a time of need. In recognizing and expressing generosity, you will be enriching your own life by recognizing the value of giving. For my part, I am very grateful for all of the hard work, talent, and acts of kindness demonstrated by our staff, students, and faculty throughout the year. I thank you for the privilege to serve as the Dean of our remarkable School.