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January 19, 2016 / Retirementallychallenged.com

GratiTuesday: Lifelong learning opportunities

I’ve written several posts about the free or low-cost educational opportunities many communities offer to those who are 50+. I continue to be amazed at the breadth of subject matter and quality of instruction these classes, workshops, lectures, and field trips offered.

The OASIS Institute is just one of many learning opportunities that can be found in many communities.

The OASIS Institute is just one of many learning opportunities that can be found in many communities.

Last semester, among several classes my husband and I attended, were a couple of exceptional one-day workshops offered by our local OASIS Institute. Teaching them was a tenured professor of Philosophy and Humanities at a local college and a popular speaker at both OASIS and Osher. The depth of his knowledge was amazing and his skills as a lecturer quite impressive.

One of his workshops was titled Practicing Gratitude. By weaving religion, philosophy, poetry, culture, and modern-day challenges, the instructor was able to shine a light on why we are wired to react more strongly to negative events instead of positive ones and remember insults rather than praise. Even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, we often will focus on the negative.

Our proclivity to look for threats and be hyper aware of potential negative outcomes was hard-wired into our prehistoric brains. Our early relatives wouldn’t have lived very long by assuming everything would turn out great if they just looked on the bright side of life. Their world was full of threats and their survival depended on being wary and watchful.

Fortunately in our modern world, embracing a positive outlook and practicing gratitude won’t get us eaten by a saber-toothed cat. That’s not to say we should turn a blind-eye to possible threats and naively expect that everyone has our best interests at heart. We still need to remain attentive and protect ourselves from harm. But, we can change the way we react to events and alter our perspective by proactively and consciously practicing gratitude. Even a negative experience can yield a positive outcome (if only a small nugget of one) if we train ourselves to look for it.

Many people have embraced the practice of gratitude and have found that by doing so, they have become calmer and feel happier. Suspicion and hyper-vigilance can be exhausting and depressing. In order to help them focus, some people keep a gratitude journal; others begin every day by making a mental list of people and things they are grateful for. Beginning on the first Tuesday after the new year, I started to write a weekly GratiTuesday post. I hope to keep it up throughout 2016 and beyond.

Today, I am so very grateful for the incredible lifelong learning opportunities available to me. The instructors, volunteers, sponsors, and donors work together to inspire and engage us so we never stop learning.

What are you grateful for?

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10 Comments

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  1. Terri Webster Schrandt / Jan 19 2016 7:49 pm

    I am grateful for education and minds that want more! How cool to be able to take part in these classes! I am loving your gratiTuesdays, Janis, please keep them coming!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Jan 20 2016 3:47 pm

      Thank you Terri! Sometimes I wish I could start college all over again. I’d probably choose my major differently and I know I’d be more engaged. I did well and got good grades, but I wasn’t passionate about the subject matter. These lifelong learning opportunities give me a second chance to pick subjects that resonate with me.

  2. dconnollyislandgmailcom / Jan 19 2016 9:11 pm

    I am newly retired and can really relate to your blog posts. I also believe in the power of gratitude and am grateful for so many things — retirement being big on my list! Thank you for your great posts!
    Donna
    http://www.retirementreflections.com

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Jan 20 2016 3:52 pm

      Thank you for visiting my blog Donna! I visited Retirement Reflections and enjoyed reading about your new adventure (I tried to subscribe but couldn’t figure out how). Gratitude for the ability to retire is definitely high up on my list too!

  3. Kate Crimmins / Jan 20 2016 7:44 am

    There is so much to be grateful for that I wouldn’t know where to start. Being alive comes to mind first!

  4. Carol Ferenc / Jan 20 2016 12:49 pm

    Interesting explanation on why we tend to gravitate toward negativity ~ I never thought about that before. Among many other things, I’m grateful to be healthy now after being very ill a year ago. Nothing makes you appreciate life more than thinking you may loose it. I’m enjoying the GratiTuesdays, Janis!

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Jan 20 2016 3:58 pm

      You are so right; there is nothing like an illness (yours or a loved ones) to better appreciate health! I’m so glad that you are feeling better. I’m glad you are enjoying GratiTuesday.

  5. Charlie@Seattle Trekker / Jan 20 2016 8:18 pm

    I have been trying to identify opportunities in my community that are free or are low cost, I am so glad to see others pushing this as well.

    • Retirementallychallenged.com / Feb 5 2016 10:23 am

      Sorry, somehow your comment went into my spam… I’m really amazed at the quality I’ve discovered and truly grateful for those who support these programs through generous donations and planned giving programs.

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