The Power of Gratitude

Posted by Peggy Procter on 11/14/2017

I often feel overwhelmed as holiday decorations appear while I’m still unwrapping my favorite pieces of Sidney’s Halloween candy.  Our culture often seems obsessed with the accumulation of stuff, and it feels more intense as the holidays approach.  That is why, as November comes and the weather cools and darkness comes earlier, I try to remind myself of what this month and the next are truly all about - giving thanks.  It is time to turn our energies towards preparing our annual celebrations where our actions and conversations can turn towards community gratitude and the unique opportunity to share our time, voices, love, and good fortune with others.


Gratitude is a word that we hear more often as the holiday season ramps up.  As the author Melody Beattie states, “Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend”.  In the simplest of ways it is sharing small moments with others that creates a feeling of warmth, comfort, and joy as this quotation suggests.  The quality of our exchanges, both in the Echo Horizon community and in the greater community, are at the heart of our gratitude practice.  Our fourth graders spending the last few weeks spreading random acts of kindness in their communities, a kindergartener pausing in the hall to ask me how my day is, a second grader dropping canned goods into the Thanksgiving Food Drive bins, a parent sending a teacher a kind email, a student making me a lovely gift in MakerSpace - these are the simple yet profound acts that turn a regular day into a truly joyful one.  


There is a growing body of research on the power of gratitude.  In Forbes magazine, Amy Morin shares the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude with her readers.  These include:


  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
  2. Gratitude improves physical health
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  5. Grateful people sleep better
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem
  7. Gratitude increases mental health


Robert Emmons, Ph.D, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being.  His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression, something we wish for in ourselves and wish for even more in our children.  We must bring as much gratitude into our lives and into our joyful engaged learning community as possible!  


It is time to remind ourselves not to underestimate the importance of gratitude and appreciation in our lives.  I know that, in the excitement and busyness of everyday life, I sometimes forget to find time for gratitude.  I will challenge myself and you, to do as John F. Kennedy challenged us to do:  “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”   Take a moment this Thanksgiving holiday to thank a friend, a teacher, a sibling, a neighbor, an employee, even a stranger, for something they did that had a positive impact on your life.  Take a moment to meditate or do some mindful breathing and think about the good fortune in your life. Take a moment to appreciate those who came before you who gave you so much.  


Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving break and a well-deserved few days of rest,  togetherness, and gratitude.  




7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude that will Motivate You to Give Thanks Year Round, by Amy Morin, Forbes Magazine, November 23, 2014.