How to take gratitude to the next level.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blogpost! I’ve been busily growing the Learning Pioneers community and blogpost ideas have been coming to me so quickly I haven’t quite been able to grab hold of one of them and get them down onto paper (or on the screen). Finally, a short and sweet idea has sprung to mind and I’ve managed to hold on to it long enough to get it down and out into the world …

Gratitude and why it’s important

Our focus this term in Learning Pioneers has been on Design Principle 1 in “Powering Up Children” – making the classroom a safe, inspiring place to learn. To super-charge our thinking, we invited well-being and happiness expert, Adrian Bethune, into our community to inspire us about teaching well-being and happiness and, most importantly, taking care of our own well-being and happiness.

One of Adrian’s “top tips” for taking care of our well-being and the well-being of our children was to actively focus on the positive – On that which we are grateful for. We talked about how our brains are designed to stick to the negative (from our hunter gatherer days for survival) and about “Peak end theory” – the idea that if we end our day with a positive, we are more likely to see the whole day as a positive day.

As such, amongst other positive changes, the Pioneers have been planning in “What Went Well” discussions and walls and have been keeping their own gratitude lists and been having dinner time gratitude discussions with their friends and families. Adrian’s “top tip” was to keep a gratitude journal beside your bed and write three things in it before you go to sleep.

Active appreciation

Reflecting on and applying this and noticing the positive impact.

  • I notice I can shift my mood if I just pay attention
  • I realise there is a huge amount to be grateful for in my life
  • I am able to see the behaviour of others in a more positive and forgiving light

And I have been wondering how I can deepen this even further

How can I take my gratitude to the next level, so it’s not only something I focus on a few times a day, but also something that infiltrates my life.

And this is where “active appreciation” comes in.

Active appreciation happens before the event. You don’t have to wait for something cool or lovely to happen first. You go into your day, purposefully appreciating what is in front of you and what unfolds.

You travel to work appreciating that you have a car/bike/that you are mobile.

You notice the interesting people on your journey – you may even want to smile at them – appreciating that you can go out into the world and that this world, in this moment in front of you, is at peace.

You notice nature – trees, animals, birds – and appreciate the details and that you are able to take them in and enjoy them – for free, every day!

You appreciate your colleagues, teams, the variety of perspectives and the learning that this brings. You appreciate the children and all their joys and idiosyncrasies.

And each day, you get up with the intention of doing the same.

You live in a state of gratitude and appreciation. All it takes it a choice and active commitment to training your mind to pay attention.

Try this, notice everything around you and in you change.


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