Practicing Gratitude in Times of Turmoil
“Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”
—Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton: An American Musical
Easier said than done Mr. Miranda! Let’s face it, 2020 has thrown us off our game. We are living in one of the most stressful times in modern history. It has made us uncomfortable. Perhaps, it has made us feel hopeless. Or, even broken us down where we have had a difficult time getting back up.
In my last chatterbox I used an article from The Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Ask yourself what are you really feeling?”. The article asked us to try to recognize what we are feeling by talking it through because we may not have the words to really identify what we, especially children, are truly feeling. As part of the article, it included a link to about the science of character, from the Character Lab at The University of Penn psychology department at: characterlab.org
I am taking this time to revisit the character lab and highlight an article about Gratitude. On a personal note, I have started a course to develop and strengthen my understanding and practice of mindfulness. In the short time I have been working on the course, one component that keeps coming up again and again is gratitude. In the character lab article on Gratitude, there are four main things to consider to help incorporate gratitude as a daily habit. Practicing gratitude is said to help elevate a positive outlook on one’s self and others. The idea of helping us out of this 2020 funk and continue on a positive outlook and mindset.
First, is an internal, personal “Pulse Check”
Think about your day. How is it going so far? Can you say yes to any of these things……
- I thanked someone.
- I was able to show my appreciation through an act of kindness.
- I am able to make a list of people and things that I’m grateful to have in my life.
- I recognized when someone helped me.
- I have a feeling of thankfulness and gratitude. (Duckworth & Bono, 2020)
Second, according to Duckworth and Bono, there are three ways to motivate others to practice gratitude.
Model it. Express the good things that are happening. It is so easy to focus on our doom and gloom, turn it around and find something positive to highlight. (Duckworth & Bono, 2020)
Celebrate it. Allow yourself to recognize gratitude from others. Take the time to express how someone expressing their gratitude towards you made you feel. (Duckworth & Bono, 2020)
Enable it. Have cards or notes available to pass on a thank you. With your children, perhaps at a meal or driving in the car, give everyone the opportunity to share one good thing that happened in the day. Allow it to become a habit. As an ELL educator, this one stands out the most for me, particularly to get kids talking. (Duckworth & Bono, 2020)
In closing, I am leaving you with the challenge of practicing, modeling and enabling gratitude each day. I will end on a quote from The Healing Runes on Gratitude, “Practice Gratitude each morning when the sun comes up. And every evening when the sun goes down, practice Gratitude.” (Blum & Loughan, 1995, p.82)
Blum, R., & Loughan, S. (1995). The healing runes: Tools for the recovery
of body, mind, heart and soul (pp. 81-82). New York: St Martin’s Press.
Duckworth, A., & Bono, G. (n.d.). Gratitude; Appreciating what you’ve been
given. Retrieved September 09, 2020, from