Like other healthy practices such as eating well and exercising daily, learning gratitude is more about practice than teaching. We are all grateful for different parts of our lives, and one isolated activity in a classroom or advisory meeting does not lead to a lifetime of expressing gratitude. Instead, we teach gratitude in our community by making it a regular part of our lives.
If making gratitude a part of your regular routine isn’t something you do already, don’t worry. In our community, it is never too late to begin learning gratitude. Below are some activities we recommend for our students and families, similar to initiatives that we embrace at New Hampton School.
• Create a Thankfulness Jar or Board to visualize people or events you are thankful for
• Wake up in the morning, take a breath, and say, “Thank you”
• Make a 10-minute appointment on your calendar to write three thank you notes to people you appreciate
• Before criticizing or complaining, ask yourself what is good in your life
This month at New Hampton School, students are organizing “Grateful Grams”, which are blank note cards they can use to write to someone they are grateful for in our community. Notes will be delivered to campus mailboxes just before Thanksgiving Break. Student Council is also preparing 400 baggies filled with Teddy Grahams and this quote from William Arthur Ward: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it.” They will put one baggie in each student and faculty’s campus mailbox. At our next advisor meeting, each group will pick a department or person to show appreciation, and then carry out the best way to show that after School Meeting on the following Friday.
In a recent House Meeting, students explored the meaning of the following Quero Apache Prayer, in honor of our Native American Heritage Awareness Month:
Looking behind, I am filled with gratitude, looking forward I am filled with vision, looking upwards I am filled with strength, looking within I discover peace.
We believe teaching gratitude begins with self-exploration and practice. It’s the small things that count such as telling someone you appreciate them. We want our students and community to appreciate the hard work they put into life every day.