'Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.' - Cicero
What a delight it was to welcome the girls back to school this week for the start of Term 2! It always brings me such joy to see the girls' smiling faces and hear their excitement as they greet each other after holiday breaks. Over Easter we were blessed with the most glorious weather and I am sure that like mine, families were most grateful for the break and the time to spend with friends and family.
When Georg Simmel, German philosopher, wrote 'gratitude is forever', he argued that gratitude is indeed the moral glue that ties people and communities together and this, of course, is particularly relevant to a school community. There is a growing amount of research reflecting the strong association between gratitude and wellbeing with grateful thinking, and especially the expression of it to others, associated with increased levels of energy, optimism, empathy and strengthening relationships.
One study by McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang (2002) demonstrated that noting the things we are grateful for, even on a weekly basis, is enough to have a positive influence on an individual's wellbeing.If this is so, how can we practise being grateful in our everyday lives?
Earlier this week, I sent an email to the Senior School girls encouraging them to take the time each day of pausing, even if just for a moment, to reflect on their blessings. They might do this during lunchtime, sharing with friends something for which they feel grateful, or a few moments with family around the dinner table to, as we refer to in our family, 'hunt the good stuff'.
In the business of the term ahead I encourage all families to please take time to stop and reflect on being grateful. Over time you will begin to notice a pattern and you may be surprised just how good you will feel.
If you are interested in knowing more about gratitude and its effects, I would recommend viewing Robert Emmons clip Cultivating Gratitude.