“Each day comes bearing it’s own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”
– Ruth Ann Schaback
grat•i•tude: a feeling of thankful appreciation for favors or
benefits received; thankfulness
Two years ago, we spent the whole summer learning to be more grateful. Our summer theme of gratitude led to a range of activities and discussions that continue to be a central part of the GAC culture. Why such a big focus on gratitude? Because strengthening their gratitude muscles is a great way to grow our campers’ happiness and is a skill we feel benefits them far beyond camp.
We’ve learned through Dr. Christine Carter’s research on gratitude that “people who consciously practice gratitude are happier, more satisfied with their lives, and have fewer health complaints.” According to Dr. Carter, who is the author of Raising Happiness as well as a GAC parent and staff trainer, “people who practice gratitude are also more enthusiastic, interested, determined, are more likely to be kind and helpful to others, and sleep better.” Wow! With a list like that, how could we not focus on teaching campers some gratitude skills?
“Difficulty and scarcity inspire gratitude,” says Dr. Carter. Those are not things that most GAC campers have experienced. But camp does offer a unique opportunity for us to step away from our “stuff” and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for. At camp, without being surrounded by expensive electronics and feeling pressured to have the latest clothing styles, campers have time to think about and discuss deeper topics of greater value and importance.
Dr. Martin Seligman, one of the founders of Positive Psychology, has tested his “Three Blessings” exercise with both his students and with patients exhibiting depressive symptoms. In both cases, taking the time, each day, to simply think about and write down three good things had a powerful and positive impact on happiness.
Watch this video to get inspired to be more grateful!
What you can do:
- Start a gratitude journal where you write, every day, three good things (big or small) that happened that day.
- Write a gratitude letter to someone you never properly thanked, and deliver it in person or read it to them over the phone.
Have a grateful day!
For more on gratitude:
Dr. Martin Seligman Video about Three Blessings
Teaching Kids Gratitude Instead of Entitlement
Sunshine Parenting: Grateful Campers are Happy Campers
Raising Happiness: christinecarter.com
Teaching Children to Be Grateful
The Gift of Gratitude
Your Kindness Is Good for You
George Saunders’s Advice to Graduates
Teaching Kids Gratitude