I cannot believe it is finals week already! I was a little reminiscent of the last few days as the semester draws to a close. I have been at Ancilla for five semesters, and one thing that comes to mind immediately is gratitude. I am so grateful for everything that I have experienced these last five semesters. Besides the fact that there are incredible people here, we’ll talk about them in my final blog post; I have been able to accomplish whatever I have dreamed here at Ancilla. If you want it and put in the work, the sky is the limit. I would never have imagined when I walked through those doors terrified and sick to my stomach, that what has happened would have happened. I am grateful every day for the doors that God has opened in my life. Gratitude is a fantastic thing, you see. According to positive psychology research at Harvard University, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Let me say that again. Gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Science says it, the Bible says it, everyday people on the street say it. It is a proven fact. So, if it is so great, how can you be more grateful? I have known and worked with many unhappy people. It brings you down, but one thing that can help is to recognize one thing to start. At the end of the day, thank God for one thing good that happened that day.
The definition of gratitude, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is the quality of being thankful, readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Sometimes it seems that there is nothing left to be grateful for. We have all had those days. We miss the alarm and get up late. Heading out the door in a rush, we spill coffee down our shirt. Upon changing, you jump in the car, and it won’t start. The list goes on and on throughout the day. One thing I have noticed is that when my day is going like that, and I just keep thinking about how bad it is, it doesn’t get better. It is like a slippery slope, down, down, down to the bottom, until we feel like we will never get back up. You wonder if you maybe go back to bed, act like it never happened if it will be better tomorrow. Then you wake up mad about yesterday and today doesn’t seem to go much better. When my day is going in this type of direction, I find that if I stop, take a deep breath and find maybe the one tiny good thing; the day doesn’t appear to be so bad. At least I woke up today, or I made it safely to my destination. I may be in a bad mood, and half an hour late, but I made it there in one piece.
I started expressing my gratitude a few years ago. At the end of the day, I would simply say, “Thank you, God; thank you, for waking me up today, thank you, for keeping my family healthy and mostly happy, thank you for some sunshine today.” Something, anything, but at least one thing that I was grateful for. I still have bad days, but on the whole, I stay positive and try to see the bright side. I know that sounds cliché, but it works. So, the next time it seems hopeless, stop and find one thing to be grateful for. Gratitude is contagious. Smile at the person in the hallway, or open the door for someone. You could be what they are grateful for at the end of the day.