Appreciating Sweet Summertime

Appreciating Sweet Summertime

Ana Patterson

Summer is here and the temperatures are rising! As the Texas heat sets in, I look forward to enjoying many of the activities that make summertime sweet. Some of my favorite things include watching live baseball games, attending community plays and concerts, celebrating the Fourth of July and visiting the lake or beach with family and friends.

It is hard to believe that a year ago, many of our traditional summertime activities were canceled due to the pandemic. Parks, lakes and beaches were empty, events were postponed and sports stands were filled with cardboard cutouts. 

As our communities begin to open again, I have a newfound appreciation for what it means to enjoy activities together. Recently, I attended the show Tuck Everlasting by the Plaza Theatre Company in Cleburne. The show was amazing and left me in awe of the talented cast! I am already looking forward to enjoying upcoming productions. However, the best feeling was sitting in the audience with friends in the row in front of me and people who I recognized throughout the theatre. It felt like community.

As we begin to fill our calendars and return to busy lives on the other side of the pandemic, there is scientific proof to support the value of slowing down and appreciating the moments we get to enjoy again. A study by Rutgers University concluded that appreciation uniquely correlates with happiness. Even after accounting for variables such as gender, age, ethnicity and personality, appreciation was a statistically significant factor to life satisfaction. 

What I found most interesting in this study was the distinction between appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude is an expression in response to receiving something, such as a gift, and is an important aspect of appreciation. However, when we express appreciation, we acknowledge the feeling that something is good and valuable. “Stop and smell the roses” is great advice after all!

This summer let’s make a point of slowing down and appreciating the things that make the season sweet. Enjoy a day at the pool or a picnic in the park. Stop when you see a young entrepreneur’s lemonade stand. Cheer for the hometown team at the ballpark. Gather with neighbors to watch a parade or fireworks on the Fourth of July. 

 If living through a pandemic has taught me anything, it is the value found in community. I look forward to enjoying a new appreciation for sweet summertime!

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