Kindness Series, Part II: Building Resiliency, the second element = Gratitude
As we are about to embark on the holidays, I have always found it fitting the season starts with Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is more than a day. It can be a way of being. Being thankful or grateful is the path to being joyful.
Benedictine Monk Brother David Steindle-Rast explains it well in his Ted Talk (viewed by more than 7 million people) that we all want happiness. “Happiness is not steady,” he said, “but joy can be steady, and that’s what we really want.” A critical path to that joyfulness is through learning and practicing a mindset of gratitude.
There are simple things we can do to enhance our likelihood of being grateful. Br. Steindle-Rast teaches us to think of what your parents taught you as a child when you would cross a street. They would say, “Stop, look, go.”
In this fast-paced world, it feels as if we are moving on an out-of-control treadmill. We need to create stops in our daily lives. We need to “stop and look around.” When we do, we are more likely to see the smile of a young child, to hear the song of a bird, to find time to share a meal with friends, to experience the warmth of a soft bed, or even to marvel at the convenience of water coming out of a faucet. When we stop and look around, we can become aware of all for which we should be grateful. The more we do that, the more joy we will possess.
One rarely knows the effect a simple act can have on an individual. During our all-staff Convocation in August, I shared my experience of receiving a Facebook message from a former student, expressing thanks for some simple words I shared with his mother 30 years ago.
Author Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, has studied the importance of teaching gratitude. In the following short video clip, she offers practical examples of how to practice gratitude more, including starting a “gratitude journal” or a simple practice one can incorporate at the beginning of a family meal.
Finally, I’d like to share this Harvard article, Giving thanks can make you happier, with practical suggestions for cultivating gratitude. The article illustrates how gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships.
All of our schools continue to practice gratitude through both unanticipated and planned experiences. This month through various Veterans Day activities, our students and staff have honored all of those who have served our country. We are grateful for the service and personal sacrifice of these men and women.
Next Tuesday, Nov. 19, we will emphasize our commitment to gratitude, symbolically by wearing our Green Glasses of Kindness. We hope you will take a moment to reinforce our message and find some time to talk with your child(ren).
As we enter this holiday season and prepare for Thanksgiving, my wish for you, your family and our community is we all reflect on how to practice more acts of kindness and show more gratitude to others. In doing so, our students will learn from our example, be more joyful and, in the end, more resilient.
Let’s all be thankful for Thanksgiving,