The Antidote to December Stress: Teach Students to Write about Gratitude
byAnna Gratz Cockerille
I have been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. Kate and Maggie’s lovely recent post on Indent, “The Grateful Teacher,” says all I wished I could have said, all I want to say, and more about gratitude. (In lieu of reading the rest of my introduction, you might just want to read their post.) While reading Daring Greatly by Brené Brown with my #NFBookClub this past summer, one part that really struck me was about gratitude. Brown suggests that one way to combat the anxiety and fear that come with the quest for perfection and that threaten to destroy our happiness is to consciously focus more on gratitude. This suggestion has helped me tremendously. As I stand over my son’s crib at night, watching him sleep and (thank goodness) breathe, instead of letting the panic that I sometimes feel about his well-being and my ability as a parent set in, I reflect on the heart-achingly beautiful gratitude I feel to have him.
I have come to believe that gratitude is the antidote for all that is difficult, painful, or frustrating. I might even go so far as to say that gratitude can fight evil, cure sickness, and perhaps can possibly even make us feel better about standing in long lines during holiday season.
But thinking about gratitude does not always come easily. At this time of year, some negativity can enter into our classrooms as fatigue and pressure to finish a million things set in. One way to send students off with joy this break is to channel them write about gratitude.
Here are a few entry points you could teach students to help them to write their gratitude.
1. Use simple sentence frames.
I am grateful for_________because…
Even though…, I feel grateful because…
I am very lucky because…
2. Study your writer’s notebook with the lens of gratitude. Search past stories, essay entries, even informational notes. Let those entries spark ideas for gratitude.
- A personal narrative entry about a time you had a wild adventure with your cousin might remind you that you are grateful for close family relationships.
- An essay entry where you were trying out ideas for an essay on why people should have pets might remind you that you are grateful for your beloved cat.
- Notes you took about an ancient civilization might remind you that you are grateful for modern comforts, like heat and running water.
3. Use narrative writing strategies to spark ideas.
- Think of a person or place that really matters to you. Think of a moment that shows why you are grateful for this person or place. After you write the story, you might right a reflection telling why you are grateful.
4. Make a quick list! As fast as you can, list the first twenty things that pop into your head for which you are grateful.
5. Write a letter to whose to whom you are grateful expressing your gratitude.
6. Consider using gratitude as a way to feel better about sad or mad feelings. Think of something that has made you angry or sad. Write about what it is, and then write about something for which you are thankful in connection with the bad experience.
Recently, on a certain social media site, I came across the following image.
I will carry this list with me as I enter in to what can be a stressful and overwhelming season. I wish you, your families, and your students a holiday filled with love, peace, and gratitude.
Please share your ideas to help students to write their gratitude.
While we are all getting excited about the upcoming year ahead, it’s important to think about gratitude.
Gratitude is one of the most important elements for success. It’s the key to experiencing life at its best.
Many will tell you that hard work and dedication produce success. However, being grateful for your blessings in life is arguably what opens the door to a life of success and prosperity.
Gratitude is a powerful practice that can revolutionize your life forever! Here’s why.
The Importance Of Gratitude
1. Gratitude flows from a heart of “thanksgiving.”
Thanksgiving is not just a date on the calendar. Thanksgiving is a daily discipline that we should all develop in our lives.
Years ago, I made a conscious decision to write down three to five things that I am grateful for every single night. I have done this for almost twenty years, and it changed my life.
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I found myself being thankful for the beautiful trees and moments of silence—for adversity and even painful experiences.
This exercise in gratitude empowered me to be thankful in all circumstances. It shifted my outlook about life and opened me up to a level of living that I did not even know was possible.
2. Gratitude shifts the narrative of your life.
So many people in the world today are battling through toxic thoughts and negative words. These thoughts and words create negative cycles in your lifes.
Being grateful changes the sequencing of words and the processing of your thoughts. It seasons your words and focuses your thoughts creating new possibilities for your life.
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Your story changes, and therefore, the seasons of your life change. You are able to have the right perspective and understand the value that each cycle of life brings. You go from a life of complaining to a life of compassion and appreciation. Changing your story empowers you to create success in every area of your life.
3. Gratitude changes us for the better.
Humanity is in a constant state of evolution. We are all on a journey to become the highest expression of ourselves.
As a soul coach, I know that becoming your best self begins with cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude.
The moment I made gratitude a daily practice in my life, I noticed remarkable changes. I noticed that my heart was more open, and I found myself being more compassionate in life. I was unshaken when things did not go according to plan. Most of all, I was able to process my experiences differently and find the good in everything.
Related: 11 Ways To Stay Positive (Even When You’re Around Negative People)
Gratitude is an advanced practice, but it yields abundant possibilities. The more grateful you are, the more authentic you become. Gratitude will change you into a peaceful, conscious, and sacrificial person. You will be able to be present, and you will be able to live in the flow of life.
4. Gratitude produces a more meaningful life.
When it comes to life meaning, nothing compares to living a life of gratitude. When you are truly grateful, you find yourself living with greater purpose and passion.
Being grateful will give you meaning because it allows you to capture the full essence of every moment. It takes the burden out of life while adding a dimension of beauty, and it allows you to find contentment even in moments of crisis.
Being grateful is developing a mindset that nothing has the ability to compromise your contentment. Contentment will create the conditions that you desire to see in your life. Cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude will be the best decision you ever make.
Jamelle Sanders is the CEO of Jamelle Sanders International and is committed to empowering entrepreneurs and leaders to live up to their true potential and to profit wildly in their businesses. Jamelle is a life coach, author, leading empowerment specialist and highly respected thought leader. Jamelle has successfully empowered leaders and entrepreneurs around the world to succeed in business and in life.
Photo by beth~yellowhousedays
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