Gary Tetz

While walking reluctantly into our place of long-term care employment yesterday, a colleague and I started talking sarcastically about how delighted we were to be alive and at work. We didn’t mean a word of it, and there was a lot of laughter and eye-rolling as we mockingly added items to our verbal gratefulness list. 

But after exiting that conversation, I realized that even though we hadn’t been remotely serious, it was still effective. My mood was improved. My day seemed brighter. Our derisive tone and cynical intent didn’t seem to matter, kind of like how smiling can improve your health even when you’re faking it. And this lesson arrived when I needed it most. 

This is a tough time for everyone, to say the least, and especially in long-term care. It seems like we relaxed a bit and breathed a premature sigh of relief when it appeared the vaccines were bringing the virus under control. Then just when we were most vulnerable, we got hit even harder as the resurgent Delta variant was abetted by cynical politicians and a misinformed populace. 

I’m reminded of Harry Houdini, the legendary escape artist. After surviving countless harrowing stunts, he was allegedly killed by an unexpected punch in the gut from a playful young admirer when he wasn’t expecting it. That’s how this feels right now, at least to me. We relaxed, and are paying the emotional price. 

One of the first things happiness gurus advise in navigating and surviving our bleakest and most challenging moments is to practice intentional gratefulness, and I have to say, it actually works. I find it’s difficult, if not impossible, to think a negative thought when I’m writing a gratitude letter to someone, or listing everything good in my life.

At this point in the seemingly endless pandemic, we’re going to need all the tools we can find to maintain our positivity and resilience. Gratefulness lists are one way to do that, and I’m grateful for them. I should put that on my list. 

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a two-time national Silver Medalist and three-time regional Gold and Silver Medal winner in the Association of Business Press Editors (ASBPE) awards program, as well as an Award of Excellence honoree in the recent APEX 2020 Awards. He’s been amusing, inspiring, informing and sometimes befuddling long-term care readers worldwide since the end of a previous century. He is a writer and video producer for Consonus Healthcare Services in Portland, OR.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.