|Posted by Whitney Neal on March 22, 2012 at 9:15 PM|
He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." - Epictetus
Why did I select Thankful Thursday as a weekly topic for my blog? Gratitude is a gift.
My parents did an amazing job providing me with a childhood that allowed me to enjoy life but also be extremely grateful for the little things. We didn't have a lot growing up - my father was in the Air Force and we had enough to live happily as a family as we traveled the world. The combination of my humble upbringing and seeing the reality of life beyond the United States has given me such a blessed perspective.
Early on in my teaching career (seriously, like the first week) it became abundantly clear that a majority of today's youth lack an appreciation for their blessings. They are not shown, nor taught, to be grateful. We have created an entitlement society that masks want with need. So I started Thankful Thursdays with my students - every Thursday they journal about, at a minimum, three things they are thankful for. if they repeat something they detail why whatever it is deserves additional gratitude. It is such a wonderful experience - at the beginning of the year, the kids don't take it seriously. They say they are thankful for iPhones, iPads, paintball guns, and more material items. But by this point in the school year, their attutides have changed. Just by discussing gratitude, openly, they are now comfortable expressing thanks for things like clean water. Family. Freedom of Religion. Freedom of Speech. Even SCHOOL (yes, there are 8th graders thankful for school) and the Constitution. Some of my favorites are when students write about their gratitude for our military or for teachers.
They openly share, in a classroom of their peers, being thankful for food, or for a long out of work parent finding a job. They have opened up about their lives in a way one wouldn't expect. And now they know more about eachother - and how truly alike they are - just by having an open discussion on gratitude.
We need to talk about gratitude more in this country - in our families, in our schools, in our political discussions, in general. The more we recognize how lucky we are for the simple gift of individual liberty or to live under the Constitution, the more opportunities we have to spread the message that it is our job, as citizens and voters, to protect what we are so grateful for. I'm so thankful for my life - for the challenges and the blessings that come with it. For each and every person who has made an impact on my life. Don't get me wrong - I'm also thankful for Starbucks in the morning and my sunglasses collection - but deep down I'm thankful for so much more. And that's what I'll do on this blog - share my gratitude.
So today - I'm thankful to BE thankful.