November is apparently the month of gratitude, if status updates on Facebook are an authority. The connection with the American celebration of Thanksgiving is likely the connection. I think it is great, although gratitude can become an important part of every day of your life, as opposed to something you focus on in November. Gratitude has been a big part of changing my life!
There are many good reasons why a teacher – or anybody – should embrace gratitude. In this post, I want to list a few of the reasons why you should explore the concept of gratitude, i.e. the “benefits of gratitude.” In an upcoming post, I intend to list a few ways you can be more grateful and express your gratitude.
Gratitude Makes Your Perspective More Positive
Your perspective is your map of the world, i.e. how you experience reality. Everybody experiences reality differently. Let’s look at two teachers. They both have the same kids (during different periods). One is mean, hates kids, and never wants to get up in the morning. The other is cool, loves kids, and views every day as an exciting opportunity. Same kids. Very different perspective.
Some people believe that the world around us determines our outlook. So, they say, if it rains or the stock market crashes, your day must be bad. However, this is not true. Rain and market crashes are neutral stimuli. Farmers love rain in the middle of a drought, and people pay good money to get wet at water parks. Also, people that sell short love market declines, as do bond holders, because they are typically inversely related. Can you see my point? Our perspective determines our reality.
Gratitude is a major perspective changer. One of my favorite phrases is “you can’t hate what you are grateful for.” When I was at a recent extra-school event I was required to attend, I admit I wasn’t too thrilled. Giving extra time for no extra pay is not something that thrills me (I strongly believe if people do extra work, they deserve extra pay). Plus, some of the students were not being cooperative. A particular group of guys was being extra boisterous. Rather than get mad, I decided to find something to be thankful for in these individuals. I suddenly realized they were being kind of funny, and I wish I had their energy at that late hour of the evening. Suddenly I went from being angry and bothered to relaxed and in a good mood. Gratitude acts as a powerful perspective changer, and it shifts your perspective to the positive side of life.
Gratitude Makes You Happier
At that recent extra-school event, we were at a conference center. There were a few staff members that were extra mean and bitter. Anytime a kid did anything even remotely unexpected (like moving a piece of furniture), I heard about it as a chaperone. And, they didn’t express their concerns nicely. I was amazed how anybody could have such a horrible perspective in life and other people. These staff members saw a bunch of hyper teens that loved breaking the rules. I saw a group of teens giving up their evening time (not many teens would do this) to learn something valuable that were full of energy. My perspective was much, much different, and gratitude shaped that perspective.
Studies have shown that simply listing a few things you are grateful for each day can make you happier. In fact, being grateful can “reset” the happiness point in your life. Many teachers end up cynical, unhappy, and even hating the very students they are supposed to care for. Can you imagine how gratitude can change your perspective on these students and make you happier? The truth is that it can! In my next post, I am going to explain ways you can take advantage of the power of gratitude, so stay tuned!