Dear Annie: We live in Florida, and my sister and brother-in-law are coming today. They will be here for six months and are expecting us to pick them up from the airport later. I also have a brother and sister-in-law, who are coming soon and will also need transportation. They both live nearby, and we check their condos during their six-month absences. We make ourselves available if a repairman is needed, and we pick up their junk mail.
All we receive are verbal thank-yous, although both families are well-off. I think a gift card to a restaurant or paying for a dinner or a round of golf would be nice. I’m beginning to resent being taken advantage of because many others in our community pay for the services we provide.
If you could print this, it would be helpful, as we pass along our newspaper to them. If not, thank you for listening to me vent! — Frustrated in Florida
Dear Frustrated: I am going to print your letter, not so that your sister and brother and their spouses get the message — you should tell them yourself how you feel — but to highlight a very important issue that you touched on: gratitude.
According to Harvard Medical School, “with gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
With this definition in mind, try to invoke a feeling of gratitude for the fact that you have siblings who love and trust you enough to want to spend time with you.
Holding on to resentment only hurts you. Let the air out of your resentment balloon by letting them know that you are feeling a bit underappreciated. My guess is that they have no idea and will respond well to your honesty. As much as we would love for people to be mind readers when it comes to our emotions and feelings, they are not. That is why it is important in any relationship to express how you feel.
I leave you with a beautiful quotation from a beautiful poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
Dear Annie: Now that I’m retired, can I go back in time and give my 5-year-old self some advice? Here’s what it would be: Listen more, and talk less. Never complain about anything. If you feel the need to complain, then write down all your complaints in a notebook. When the book is full, destroy it and start over. When you start working as a teenager — and all through your adult life — put 10 percent of your earnings in a separate bank account. Don’t touch this money until retirement. Be nice to people, with no exceptions. Be charitable to those who can’t repay you. And cheer up! Even at age 5, you know that most people on the planet are worse off than you. Don’t take credit for your accomplishments. Let others give you that. Walk more, and eat less. Tell the truth always, even if it hurts. Lastly, never make fun of others. Never. If you feel the need to make fun of someone, make fun of yourself. Trust me; you’ll have plenty of material. — Older and Wiser (and Retired) in New York
Dear Older and Wiser: A-plus advice, especially that last part. Thanks for sharing your hard-earned wisdom with the world.
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