When something big and wonderful happens in our lives, it’s easy to be grateful! But how about the everyday, small things that make our lives better, easier?? Are we ever grateful for them????
On edutopia.org, there is a great idea! It’s a gratitude journal! It’s a great idea for the classroom, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to start gratitude journals at home. Better yet, how about a family gratitude journal–what a powerful lesson for your children/family. I have found when I am more grateful, I am more happy!
Here are some ideas from that website about a gratitude journal! It’s a great website! You might want to check it out!!!!
The Neuroscience Behind Appreciation
Here’s the thing: Our brains need to feel gratitude in order for us to want to be at work. Our brains are like Teflon for positive experiences and like Velcro with negative experiences. This means the negative comments, interactions, professional development (PD) workshops, and so on, cling to our brains. But if we spend a few minutes in appreciation, recalling those fulfilling moments in a day or encounters with supportive parents, or the segments in workshops when we felt we were learning, our brains create new links between neurons.
As we strengthen these links and build them day-after-day, our mind finds it easier to travel down those neural paths and to experience the associated positive emotions. We can help our brain evolve in a positive way.
“Gratitude is like a flashlight. It lights up what is already there. You don’t necessarily have anything more or different, but suddenly you can actually see what it is. And because you can see, you no longer take it for granted.” – M.J. Ryan in Attitudes of Gratitude.
Ways of Practicing Gratitude
Keep a gratitude journal. This exercise is a way of closing every day by recalling a few things we are grateful for from that day. By simply cataloguing them our minds start to search them out during the day
What do I appreciate about today and what was my role in making it happen? This is a more focused journal prompt to respond to each day that helps us recognize our agency in our blessings. For example, I might write that third period was exceptionally engaged in their learning today and José wrote a whole page; my role in making this happen was to carefully plan the lesson and design modifications for José to accommodate his learning needs. Through this process, we discover how we can create more positive experiences for ourselves
Email a friend. You can also find a friend who wants to commit to emailing each other every day — or a few times a week — and sharing what you’re grateful for. Some of us feel more motivated by (and accountable) if we have an audience
Write a gratitude letter. Select one person you feel gratitude for (living or dead) and write a letter appreciating the ways that that he/she has enriched your life. If you can, read it face to face. This is a powerful exercise to engage in occasionally and could be tailored to an education context at times — write a letter to a former student, to a colleague, to an old teacher
Project 365. This is a fun photography project for those visually inclined. I did this for a year, taking one photo a day, and focused on capturing images that reflected something I was grateful for. After a while, I noticed that each day I’d consciously look for positive moments to capture. I felt like my mind was training itself, honing in on all that was good so that I could accomplish my daily task
Use guided imagery and meditation. By taking a few minutes at the start or end of each day to call to mind what we’re grateful for, we strengthen those neurons that make us feel happier.
Our ability to feel gratitude is a muscle of sorts — it’s a habit our minds can develop — we just need practice. Imagine if we were all practicing individually, for a few minutes in the morning and a few in the evening, and then if there were ways built into our work day to express gratitude to those around us; imagine how different we’d feel about being at school each day.
How do you practice gratitude in your personal life??
ELENA AGUILAR’S PROFILE
I am excited to start Project 365 in January! I might even make it into a Shutterfly book in December What a wonderful memory! I hope you and your family will give one of these ideas or one of your own a go!!!
I am grateful for the opportunity to have a website to share ideas with all of you!!!!
ps Teachers, if you don’t know this website, it’s got some great ideas/information. It has more information about starting a gratitude journal in your classroom.