An attitude of gratitude Print
Fonder Ponders
Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Fonder Ponders column by Jackson Fonder

It's February, and you know what that means. The Super Bowl has been played, the Lenten Season has arrived, and many of us have forsaken our New Year's resolutions. So called experts say that one third of us will have abandoned our 2016 goals by this point.

I’m a planner, so I usually have a few goals and resolutions for the year. There is one resolution that I will try to keep -- to be more grateful. It’s a fairly simple idea, but one that is easy to put aside.

Benefits from feeling thankful
Fonder Dog
Jackson Fonder's dog Radar brings joy to the Fonder family. (Contributed photo)

Studies have shown people who practice feeling thankful have an advantage when it comes to their health. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, is a leading researcher in this growing field, termed "positive psychology."

His research has found those who adopt an "attitude of gratitude" as a permanent state of mind experience many benefits.

His findings suggest grateful people may be more likely to:

• Take better care of themselves and experience less stress.

• Get more exercise and eat a healthier diet.

• Have improved mental alertness.

• Feel happier and more optimistic.

• Maintain a brighter view of the future.

My Top 5 gratitude list

To take advantage of all the benefits listed above, they recommend keeping a gratitude journal or sharing with others some of the things you are grateful for. So here is my Top 5 list:

1. Partnerships. Catholic Charities turns 70 years old this year and we are blessed to have wonderful relationships with a long list of organizations who work with us to serve more than 25,000 people each year. People like Renee Moe (CEO of United Way Dane County) and Lynn Green (Director of Dane County Human Services). Renee, Lynn, and their entire staffs work closely with us on countless projects providing advice, guidance, and feedback so that we can better serve our community.

2. My dog Radar. Pictured here, this little guy brings a lot of joy to the Fonder family. Nothing like free and unconditional love. I’m especially grateful that he doesn’t shed and is a great listener.

3. My co-workers. We spend the majority of our weekday waking hours with them. They are talented and loyal. Most could work anywhere they like, and they choose Catholic Charities. People like Trish Grant, who just celebrated her 10-year anniversary with us; Henning Von Bauer (13 years), and Mary Haberman (25 years), just to name a few.

4. Pope Francis. I love to engage in conversations with Catholics and non Catholics alike about what he says, where he visits, and how he shines a light on the poor and vulnerable.

5. Most everything chocolate. I appreciate just about everything chocolate. Chocolate cheesecake, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate milk -- you get the idea.

You might notice that my wife and kids did not make the list. I am deeply grateful for all of them, but if I include them, something has to go. I just wasn’t prepared to take chocolate off my list.

What would you add to your gratitude journal? I’d love to know -- send me an email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with "Gratitude" as the subject line and we’ll add a gratitude page to our website where we can share our blessings!

Jackson Fonder is president and CEO of Catholic Charities Madison. Catholic Charities helps nearly 30,000 people in need in the 11 counties of the Diocese of Madison. Visit for more information.