“Be thankful for the small things. It is in them that strength lies.”
Thank you, like the word sorry, is a powerful, and often under-used, word at any time, not least during a global pandemic. A time when it may seem that there is much less to be thankful for. But Mother Theresa, as someone who loved life and others extravagantly, challenges us to be thankful for the small things in our daily lives.
During the COVID-19 pandemic how did it make you feel when a child you were teaching, a colleague you work with, or a parent, took the time to say thank you? Simply saying thank you can mean so much to others, as children have discovered who have engaged in our free interactive resource, which explores the benefits of practising thankfulness, both for ourselves, and those we relate to.
Down the centuries, the gift of thankfulness, as an attitude and disposition of heart, has been championed by philosophers, psychologists and those holding religious beliefs. The word thankfulness is mentioned 71 times in the New Testament as an attitude that renews our mind and fosters joy, hope, well-being and courage in our general approach to life and others.
To support these ancient musings, there is a significant amount of research, for example, by Harvard Medical School, which demonstrates a strong relationship between thankfulness/gratitude and physical, mental and spiritual health, and even motivation in the workplace.
Given the challenges we all face in our daily lives at this time, and especially those faced by teachers and health care workers, one could quite easily justify being negative, depressed, cynical, and plain old grumpy! However, if we view life and those around us, through this darkened lens, we will lose the opportunity to learn through adversity, how to love others more—surely the very root of a good life and nurturing a compassionate community.
A tried and tested way to do this, is via expressing our appreciation and gratitude for what others do for us, and to be thankful for those things in life we may take for granted—friends, partners, food, shelter, clothing, education and the beauties to be found in nature.
Perhaps, you could take time to reflect on the many challenges that school leaders face at this time, and in turn, encourage the Head in your school by conveying your thanks for all they do—even if you feel they could be more thankful for what you do! Perhaps, you could use some of our free resources to engage children and young people in learning about the art of thankfuless and other character virtues, such as, kindness, courage and compassion.
The life of Nick Vujicic, a social justice advocate and world-renowned speaker and author, who was born without arms or legs, is just one of the inspirational stories we use in these exciting resources. I leave you with words from Vujicic, which should inspire us all to be thankful for all that we have been gifted with in this life:
“Often people ask how I manage to be happy despite having no arms and no legs. The quick answer is that I have a choice. I can be angry about not having limbs, or I can be thankful that I have a purpose. I chose gratitude.”