Everyone wants to be happy! We are always looking for new ways to increase our well-being and happiness. Some things we don’t have control over, but one thing we always have in our control is our outlook. We can spend our time being jealous or negative or we can be grateful for the positives in our lives. This will not only change how we feel emotionally but can have physical benefits, like a stronger immune system and lower blood pressure.
Just like anything else it takes practice to incorporate regular gratitude exercises into your life. Start simple- every morning write or say 5 things for which you are grateful. You could keep a gratitude journal by your bed or favorite chair. There are apps on your smart phone made for tracking gratitude.
Remember you can start with simple things like being grateful for a home to live in, a bed to sleep in, family, your job, the shoes on your feet, etc. You can create affirmations where you repeat a phrase(s) a few times a day related to something you’re grateful for. For example, I like to say “I am thankful for the opportunity to impact lives of children.” You can extend your positive gratitude outlook with others by making sure to thank others and let them know you appreciate their efforts. It can be as simple as letting the barista know how good your coffee was or letting someone know how kind they were to open the door for you. It’s really just putting a little more detail into your normal “thank you.”
Sometimes I like to take an alternative look on gratitude. One of my favorite sayings is there are always pros and cons. For those cons in your life, if you’re creative enough, you can find an alternative way to be grateful for them. For example, I’m a very anxious person which I hate. However, my anxiety has also caused me to be very hard working and a good planner. For those reasons I am grateful that my anxiety has been part of my journey. Maybe you hate how quiet you are, but that makes you a good listener. Maybe you don’t like something about your appearance but that’s lead to you using humor to make friends easier. Maybe you get angry too easily but that makes you passionate and an advocate for others. Whatever your cons are try to view them in a more grateful manner.
If you’d like to help your students gain this valuable life skill, check out the Gratitude Works Program through the National Association of School Psychologists: https://www.nasponline.org/research-and-policy/advocacy-tools-and-resources/school-psychology-awareness-week-2016/gratitude-works-program
You can start by simply having your students write letters or draw a picture for someone for which they are grateful. Students can verbally share with a partner each day something they are grateful for. For older students consider gratitude journals. You can even start a gratitude club or have a whole assembly to celebrate gratitude!
I am grateful you took time out of your busy and important life to read this. I hope it helps you in your daily life, and if it does please pass on your gratitude to others!