This week, America will celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. The holiday itself is known for its many traditions (turkey dinner, pumpkin pie, the story of the pilgrims, watching American football, etc.). The traditions are fun, but the key to this holiday is that, at its core, its purpose is the idea that we should be thankful for what we have. It is a “holiday” where gratitude is encouraged to a nation.
The interesting thing is how much this fits into our current discussion about resilience and developing it in our students. The power of gratitude has been proven in over 100 studies. Researchers have found that people who practice gratitude consistently in their lives experience more positive emotions, are more likely to accomplish personal goals, are more energetic, sleep better, have lower blood pressure, and live an average of seven to nine years longer. Wow! That is quite a list.
So how does this fit with being resilient? One of the key characteristics of resilient people is that in the face of setbacks, adversity, and tragedy, people who “bounce back” are those who can still see the positive in their situation. They are able to see what they still have, and it helps foster the optimism necessary during tough times. Simply put, people who practice gratitude are more resilient.
So how can you, or your child, develop and encourage gratitude in your life? Here is a simple list of ideas (there are hundreds more on the Internet):
- At the dinner table, have each person name one thing they are grateful for.
- Have a gratitude journal where at least once a week you list things you are grateful for.
- Increase the word “thank you” in your household and in your daily life.
- Model having a thankful spirit around the house, and express gratitude to family members from time to time.
So as I sit writing this article, here are some of the things that pop into my head that I am thankful for this week:
- Dedicated staff who invest in the lives of our students every day.
- A beautiful school campus.
- Involved parents and an active PTO.
- The lovely island of Penang and all it has to offer.
- Dedicated and hard-working school board.
- Energetic and enthusiastic student body.