The crisp Autumn air, the changing colors of the falling leaves, and the smell of pumpkin spice all mean one thing: November has arrived. With Thanksgiving approaching, There’s no better time to show our thanks and Gratitude to those close to us than this penultimate month of the year! This month, we will be focusing on giving thanks and what it means to be grateful in order to help our students prepare for the Holiday of giving back. So, to start…
What is Gratitude?
Thanksgiving, a Holiday rooted in the Pilgrim Era of American History, is all about giving thanks to those around us. The Pilgrims celebrated the First Thanksgiving feast with the Native Americans to celebrate a successful harvest, and to give thanks to one another for their contributions. That created the tradition of showing Gratitude to our friends and family over a delicious and filling meal. Gratitude is the root of Thanksgiving, but what exactly does it mean?
Gratitude involves acts of giving thanks to the people in life that support us, guide us, or otherwise contribute to our personal success. It starts by realizing that there are many people whose efforts go to helping us in our daily lives. Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, extended family, friends, coworkers, and even the Mailman play important roles in our lives, and it’s essential that we show our appreciation for them in return.
Recall our talk about Kindness and the Golden Rule throughout the month of October, and how when we do nice things to others, they will do nice things in return. Thankfulness and Gratitude work the same way; if we give our thanks to others, they will give thanks back to us. Just as others contribute to our personal success, we also help others succeed as well. Taking the time to realize who we are grateful for is the first step of Gratitude.
Who, What, Why?
Once you know who you are thankful for, the next step to Gratitude involves figuring out the “what” and the “why.” What did the people in your life do to help you – don’t be afraid to get specific here – and why are you thankful for them? Giving a reason as to why you are grateful for someone will help you show your Gratitude by reminding yourself of specific moments when that person helped you out. Furthermore, it will also help the receiver of your thanks understand why they are being acknowledged, and will ensure that your display of Gratitude is genuine.
When you give a reason why, it helps you better understand what exactly it is you are thankful for. Parents for example, are perhaps the most deserving of our thanks this time of year, but why? Because they do just about everything and anything to provide for us and our families. They put dinner on the table, provided us with clothes to wear, and gave us a roof to live under (that is, until we’re old enough to move out on our own). Instead of just saying “thanks mom and dad,” try saying something along the lines of, “you have both always been there for me, and have worked so hard to provide me a good and successful life, so for that I am grateful.”
As we’ve discussed, Gratitude and Kindness share a lot in common. The Golden Rule applies to both, and each is cyclical in nature. When we show our thanks to others, they give thanks back to us, which starts a cycle. The more thanks and Gratitude we give, the more we receive, and when we receive more we give more again! This cycle of Gratitude is the backbone of any healthy relationship.
When people are recognized for the help they provide, it encourages them to keep giving support. That’s why it is important to appreciate and recognize the role that others play in our lives.
In Our Classes
To help our students learn about Gratitude, we will be focusing on teaching them what exactly Gratitude means, and how we can show it to the people we care about. We will get them to think about specific examples of times when family members, close friends, or other important figures in their lives helped them out. We will get them to start thinking about why showing Gratitude is important, and the many different ways that they can give their thanks. Our goal is to prepare our kids to be able to give back to their families and friends in time for the Thanksgiving season.
In summary, Gratitude is all about giving thanks to those in our lives that deserve to be recognized and appreciated for all their hard work. Start by figuring out who you are thankful for, and why you should show them Gratitude. Keep in mind that Gratitude is a never-ending cycle that exponentially grows the more you give and receive thanks. And remember, November may be the season of giving thanks, but it is important to give thanks all year round!
Who are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?
What ways do you plan on showing Gratitude to your loved ones?