Knowing that saying “thanks” can become a thoughtless reflex – or worse- can be forgotten in the rush and pressure of daily tasks and endless “to-do” lists, for the month of November our team of leaders and supervisors here at AK Child & Family decided to focus energy on the theme of “Gratitude” for more than just one calorie-filled day.
And so, we took part in a 21-day “Gratitude Challenge” through the volunteer-run www.kindspring.org website. The motivation for the challenge was the belief that “small, consistent actions performed over 21 days can create a significant impact in our personal lives. When these actions are done by groups of people the impact ripples out even further.”
As our agency moves further & further along the path of Sanctuary model implementation, staff, students & families will be increasingly looking to agency leadership to see if we “practice what we preach.” Taking the time to cultivate gratitude and to focus on the positive boosts our emotional intelligence and supports our ability to commit to Sanctuary & agency principles such as non-violence and growth & change.
17 of us signed up & participated, with some of us sharing thoughts and reflections –both long & short, deep & simple - on the challenge message board.
We answered questions such as:
• What made you smile today?
• Who in your life are you under-appreciating?
• What’s an inconvenience you are grateful for?
• If this was your last day, how would you spend it?
Personally, I was reminded of the many gifts I have in my life, including some precious things I have taken for granted, or even seen as a nuisance or inconvenience. We shared about skills we value in ourselves and others, we wrote about the best mistakes we’d ever made (mine had to do with somehow ending up living in Alaska), and we posted inspiring photos of the beauty that surrounds us (including this sunset view from our campus taken after a long, stressful day at work).
An attitude of gratitude is, in many ways, its own reward, but if you need any further convincing of the benefits - check out at the infographic below from the John Templeton Foundation, which highlights some of gratitude’s positive “side-effects.”
If you’re interested in more resources to prompt your focus on gratitude, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley is a great site to check out. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/
This TED Talk https://www.ted.com/talks/david_steindl_rast_want_to_be_happy_be_grateful is also very powerful.