Notes from the Nurses: Gratitude

Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships. People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways.

Research shows that gratitude can:

  • Help you make friends. One study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek a more lasting relationship with you.
  • Improve your physical health. People who exhibit gratitude report fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of health, more regular exercise and more frequent checkups with their doctor than those who don’t.
  • Improve your psychological health. Grateful people enjoy higher well-being and happiness and suffer from reduced symptoms of depression.
  • Enhance empathy and reduces aggression. Those who show their gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, with sensitivity and empathy.
  • Improve your sleep. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep longer and better.
  • Enhance your self-esteem. People who are grateful have increased self-esteem, partly due to their ability to appreciate other people's accomplishments.
  • Increase in mental strength. Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations. (Morin, 2014)

How?

  • Each night, write about at least one kind thing you did for someone. Examples of kind acts:
    • Reach out to people who are alone.
    • Zoom with your friends.
    • Tell people what they are doing well.
    • Express appreciation.
    • Do something unexpected for someone in your home.
    • Write a gratitude letter to a teacher who meant a lot to you or to a friend.
  • Each morning write down three things for which you are grateful. You can record these in a journal or make a gratitude jar or box. This is something you can do with your kids. When they are having a bad day or are sad, they can pick a piece of paper out of their gratitude jar, read it and feel better!

Instructions on how to make a gratitude jar:

The gratitude jar is a simple exercise that can have profound effects on your well-being and
outlook. It only requires a few ingredients: a jar (a box can also work); a ribbon, stickers, glitter,
or whatever else you like to decorate the jar; paper and a pen or pencil for writing your gratitude
notes; and gratitude!
 

  1. Find a jar or box.
  2. Decorate the jar however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.
  3. This is the most important step, which will be repeated every day. Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as simple as eating your favorite food, or as grand as the love for your family member or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks. If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of who and what is good in your life.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
– Willie Nelson

Resources:

Click here for Four Things to Create a Quarantine of Kindness: Tips for a better experience
during a stay-at-home order
.

Elementary students can also refer to the April 30 Morning Meeting video for additional advice on making a gratitude jar.