Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Power of Gratitude

My principal tricked me into being happy.  It was a clever ruse, and it worked.  We usually only get to wear jeans on Fridays.  To earn Jeans Passes to wear jeans on other days, all we had to do was tweet messages of gratitude to Twitter.  For each tweet we would receive one Jeans Pass.  It was unlimited.

Sensing a loophole in our "Business Casual" dress code, I counted out the number of days left in the quarter and set my goal of 21 tweets.  I could wear jeans everyday until our winter break.  Sweet.

I began to search for things I was grateful for at work- like my funny-sweets students, my hard working colleagues, and a working copy machine.  My brain became finely tuned to noticing things that were good around me so I could tweet them and earn more glorious jeans passes.

Then, I noticed something strange happening.  I was happy almost all the time.  I smiled at my students more and laughed at their jokes.  I hugged my wife tighter and loved on my own children more.  I said thank you more for the little things people did for me.  Even as we prepared for the end of the quarter with assessments, report cards, conferences and squirrely kids, I didn't feel stress; I felt peace.

Turns out my cunning principal had intended such an outcome.  He knew about the power of gratitude and had been reading about how it affects people and organizations.  It turns out that acts of gratitude have a bunch of positive effects.

Effects of gratitude:

  • better immune system
  • lower blood pressure
  • more feelings of happiness and joy
  • acting with greater compassion
  • feeling less lonely
Once I knew what was happening, I began to be more intentional about my acts of gratitude (and less self serving).  I also introduced ways for my students to show gratitude to others in class.  Whenever I felt my self feeling down, I would list all the things I was grateful for and soon the cloud would lift.

So here is my assignment for you.  I don't have any Jeans Passes, but I do offer peace and happiness which are pretty good too.  

Find 10 things to be thankful for each day.  Write them down or say them aloud.  Watch what happens in your life :) 

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