Be Grateful, and Be Happy: Why Thankfulness is A Skill To Be Cheerful About
Dec 19, 2017
If the holiday season can teach us anything, it’s that happiness doesn’t come wrapped in a box with a bow on top. It comes from being surrounded by warmth and by loved ones, by having a sense of purpose and belonging and by recognizing just how fortunate we are to have those key elements in our lives.
When we talk about “gratefulness,” we tend to focus on material comforts - being grateful for the food we share, the clothes we wear, and the family and friends we can count on through the holidays and throughout the year. It’s important to recognize our own fortunes, and to notice just how lucky we are to have what we have. But it’s also important to spread the spirit of the season, and that means actively giving thanks well beyond Thanksgiving.
We’re Happier When We Give Thanks
Gratitude can - and should - be more than just passing thanks shared over a turkey dinner. By living gratefully every day, we actually elevate our understanding of thankfulness - and that can truly make us happier.
According to Harvard Medical School’s HealthBeat publication, expressing gratitude more often, and cultivating the skill of recognizing and noticing why we should be grateful, can actually elevate our mood and increase our likelihood of feeling happy. Several studies show how regularly being mindful of what and why we are thankful can lead to happier days, and actually make us more comfortable at expressing that gratitude as time goes by. Giving thanks for the things we have is more than just a good habit - it’s also very good for you physically and mentally.
Why We Take Time To Teach Gratitude
At World Academy, we believe strongly in the power of mindful gratitude to help students develop into happier, more successful, and more fulfilled individuals later in life. That’s why we actively encourage our students to engage in the community, having noticed how helping and sharing makes them feel happier and how these activities in our community make for positive experiences for all.
Each year, we partner with a pair of local non-profits through our annual Giving Tree initiative: The Front Door Agency (a Nashua-based group that provides transitional housing and assistance to local families in crisis) and The Humane Society of Nashua, which helps pets and animals find loving homes. We decorate our Giving Tree - located in our main entrance - with a collection of ornaments, each marked with holiday gifts for the children of families supported by Front Door or with specific items needed by the Humane Society.
By encouraging students to select an ornament supporting a need and putting it wrapped under the Giving Tree for these causes, we empower students to give back in their own way - and the results have been as impressive as they are inspiring.
When students are asked to reflect on what they feel or learn as a result of this giving, the responses are often beyond what one would expect from children at such a young age. Our students feel good about doing good, and about offering a little of what they have to comfort those that are less fortunate than they are. It helps on many levels to show students that you get out of things what you put into them… and that showing up is an important action.
By gaining a chance to see what so many other children and animals are forced to live without, our students obtain a better appreciation (and gratitude) for the things they have in their lives - not because they’re pushed to, but because they choose to. These are the lessons that will shape their understanding of gratitude for a lifetime to come.
Easy Ways To Cultivate Gratitude During The Holiday Season
Looking for simple, effective ways to cultivate gratitude this holiday season? Here are a few easy tips for feeling thankful - and for spreading the thanks to those who need it most.
- Make a list every day of three individuals you’re thankful for and let those people know.
- Choose real-life interaction over electronic interaction - why text a “thank you” when you can thank someone in person?
- Clean up after yourself, both at home and in public. That way, you can appreciate your impact on the world, and work toward leaving places better than you left them.
- Write thank-you cards for gifts and visits. The time spent thinking of someone means so much more than the card itself.
- Give back to your neighborhood. Whether it’s donating to a local aid organization or just spreading cheer in your neighborhood, thankfulness has a way of spreading to those who see it.
We’re So Thankful For Everyone In our World
Every day at World Academy, we’re reminded of just how much we have to be thankful for. Our amazing students and our incredible staff to our always-supportive families, there’s so much support for our success all through the year. By showing our gratitude, we make ourselves happier, better, and more efficient each and every day - and we do our best to spread that gratitude to our students, one act of kindness at a time.
Community involvement has and will continue to be a seminal aspect of our curriculum, and our students continue to remain at the forefront of these magnanimous initiatives. Here at World Academy, our goal is to help point the moral compass of each student in the direction of empathy, compassion, and expressing gratitude. By teaching our students to be mindful of joy, happiness and thankfulness, we give them the tools and skills to make our World Academy community happier and healthier, one student at a time!
World Academy is an accredited, licensed, independent, developmentally-appropriate and academically rigorous program for children from ages six weeks through Grade 8. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it offers high quality Early Childhood Programs, Elementary and Middle School, Before and Afterschool Programs, and Summer Quest Camp. World Academy is dedicated to providing all students with a high-quality, 21st-century, “whole child” focused education that supports families and engages all facets of a child’s being, including cognitive/intellectual, physical, social-emotional, cultural and creative aspects.
Located at 138 Spit Brook Road in Nashua, the state-of-the-art 55,000 square-foot campus features specialized wings for Nursery, Preschool, Elementary and Middle School students; three age-appropriate playgrounds; a natural playground; two in-ground swimming pools; Gymnasium/Theater complex with a rock climbing wall; nature trails; a soccer field; an accelerated Math Program; immersive World Languages programs; Lego Robotics built into the curriculum for K-8; and much more.
For more information, contact Samantha Wingate, Director of Admissions at 603-888-1982