The Language of Gratitude

“If you don’t know the language of gratitude, you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.” Chopra 

Practicing gratitude can be as simple as saying, “I’m grateful,” at least once a day. In fact, one study from the American Psychological Association found that doing so can help a person savor positive experiences, cope with stressful circumstances, and strengthen relationships. 

“Happiness flows not from physical or external conditions, such as bodily pleasures or wealth and power, but from living a life that’s right for your soul, your deepest good.” Socrates 

November is an excellent time to reflect on the things we are grateful for. As a new Board Director of the American Board of Clinical Social Work, I find myself grateful to be part of an elite group of clinical social workers that focuses on advancing our profession. We held our inaugural conference from August 3–6, 2022, led by Board Director Jana Edwards. All board directors assisted and offered support for this amazing event. I presented alongside Lieutenant Christine Nappa, a fellow U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) officer and colleague on the Public Health Emergency Response Strike Team (PHERST). We presented “Social Workers: Addressing Trauma of Officers in the USPHS Commissioned Corp” during the conference themed, Healing a Traumatized World: Clinical Social Work at Its Best. 

This brings me to the second thing I am grateful for—the opportunity to mentor the next generation of clinical social workers and USPHS Commissioned Corps officers. I am growing and learning from my mentees who are teaching me how to be a better leader. I reach deep into the recesses of my mind to find things my many mentors have taught me and try to pass them on. Many of my mentors are now retired and, without directly telling me that they were training me to take their place, they passed the mentorship torch with high expectations. It’s been an honor to learn from these great social work leaders RADM Peter J. Delany (retired), RADL Kleiman, Captain David Morrisette (retired) and Captain Andy Hunt (retired). They prepared me well to step into one of the most important roles in my career—training the next generation of social work leaders. 

As I wrote my thoughts on gratitude, I reached out to one of my nursing mentees who provided the following comments that I would like to share with you as the conclusion of my message today.. 

Gratitude: what have you been grateful for? 
My mentee stated, “My gratitude is based on spirituality, humility, and acceptance. The desire to live … like most, includes family, the needs of others, and a career that brings joy, peace, and satisfaction. This was not achieved in a day and took time for me to recognize and did not appear in my vision but was identified by others holding my hand, showing me the way, and sometimes carrying me.” 

What are you thankful for around mentorship and the blend of social work and nursing? 

She shared, “Nursing and social work complement each other in meeting the needs of humans. They provide avenues to strategize for care. The nursing social work collaboration offers a catalyst for optimal wellness. When there are limitations in the social aspect of an individual’s life and vice versa (i.e., health deficits), the concepts from each give the nurse a glance into the challenges faced by those affected socially with ample tools to strategize for care.” 

“As a lifelong learner, this mentorship [by CDR Felder] has allowed me to develop a worldview that is expansive; I work in diverse settings which has allowed me to improve my intellectual ability personally and professionally as a nurse practitioner, which would impact service delivery. In addition, mentorship from a social worker has opened my view to an angle that supports growth, leadership, and collaboration that promotes overall improvement in humanity.”

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