How do we deepen our gratitude? How do we foster it in our students? In ourselves? What is it exactly? Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness. In a Psychology Today article it was describes as, “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has – as opposed to, for instance, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants or thinks they need.”
A few years ago, TNSM staff went through training on how to unlock and leverage student (and our own) potentials through acknowledging and working with our character strengths. The program is provided through a local non-profit called VIA (Values In Action) and just happens to be the world’s largest research center on character strengths. Through their research and many other studies, gratitude always lands in the top 7 qualities that point toward future success. By future success I don’t just mean professional success but also happiness and a sense of fulfillment and meaning.
So how do we cultivate gratitude? Studies show that it is actually pretty easy. You make it a habit. You keep a daily gratitude journal. You spend ten minutes a day thinking (meditating) about the things and people you are grateful for. You write weekly “thank you” letters.
Thanksgiving is the ideal time to re-commit ourselves to gratitude. I would LOVE to hear what you are grateful for. Send me an email or short video, and I will compile them to share with the community. I’ll start:
I am grateful to be surrounded by children; 143 children from ages 3 through 12. I listened to a kindergartner explain the vastness of space to me yesterday. “It’s infinite,” he said with big eyes. That reminder was awesome in the truest sense of the word. Infinite. Wow. Another child explained and demonstrated how he was proficient in 3 languages. A 3rd-grade girl baked a treat on her own and brought it in for the teachers and admin staff; she sure showed us the power of gratitude. I am grateful that I see tiny acts of kindness every day from our students. I am grateful whenever I hear a squeaky voice call out, “Hey, Jeff guess what?” and I listen to a story about a new cat, an upcoming vacation, an idea for a comic book, or am shown a beautifully completed work that reveals both to me and to the child what they are capable of. I am grateful for what I learn from students: How to bounce back after a bad moment. How to laugh more. How to be silly. How to feel like learning something new is about the most exciting thing there is, which of course is true. Thank you for raising such amazing kids!