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by Season Mussey, EdD, from the book Mindfulness in the Classroom: Mindful Principles for Social and Emotional Learning
Gratitude is a mental act, or a habit of mind. Once a habit is formed, it is simple to continue the behavior. There are some easy tasks that you can do daily that build the habit of gratitude.
When you exercise your gratitude habits daily, you are making deposits into a "thank" account. You are building a base of positive affirmations and affiliations that you can draw upon later when you need to remember what is good in your life. If you have an accumulation of positive memories and thoughts, it may help you regulate your emotions on days when you feel blue.
Here are seven gratitude practices to try yourself and with your students.
Practice 1: Daily Gratitude Habit
Every morning when you wake up, say, "Today I am thankful for ____________."
Set a reminder on your phone to do this. Say the words aloud if possible. This simple act of daily gratitude puts you into a positive mindset from the start.
Practice 2: Thank-You Texts
Send a thank-you text to someone every afternoon. This message can be as simple as "Thank you for being you" or "Thank you for fixing my coffee this morning."
Along with building daily habits of gratitude, there are other habits worthy of building into your life and your classroom.
In addition to these daily habits, here are five weekly gratitude habits that you can use either alone or with your students to build a culture of gratitude in your world.
Practice 3: Gratitude Greetings (Monday)
Check in with your students on Monday morning with a greeting of gratitude. Thank them for being with you.
Share a story of gratitude or something that you are thankful for, perhaps a story of something that happened over the weekend. Give students some time to share gratitude stories of their own.
Practice 4: Thank-You Notes (Tuesday)
Stock up on thank-you notes from the dollar store. On Tuesday morning, allow your students to write thank-you notes to someone.
You can have a weekly theme for this activity. Some people to thank include family members, school employees, first responders, and community helpers.
This is a wonderful weekly writing assignment for students in second grade and older. If your students are younger than second grade, they can draw their thank-you notes.
If you teach emergent writers and English language learners, consider using a sentence frame and allowing them to fill in the blanks.
Thank you for ___________________________.
Practice 5: Gratitude Wall of Fame (Wednesday)
Create a place in your room for thanksgiving. This could be a bulletin board where you post pictures of people or stories about gratitude. Each Wednesday, add to the Gratitude Wall of Fame.
Practice 6: Thankful Thinking (Thursday)
On Thursday mornings, do a 1-minute thought experiment. Think about what you are thankful for that day. Take six full breaths as you picture this thing in your mind.
Practice 7: Gratitude Journals (Friday)
In your journal, write or draw three things that made you smile throughout the week.
If you consistently practice these simple acts of gratitude, you will change your mindset. There is always something to be grateful for. There is always a reason to smile.
Adapted from pages 144-146 of Mindfulness in the Classroom: Mindful Principles for Social and Emotional Learning, by Dr. Season Mussey © Prufrock Press, 2019. Used with permission. www.prufrock.com