Auburn Middle School Monthly
The Principal's Perspective
"Gratitude is like a flashlight. It lights up what is already there. You don't necessarily have anything more or different, but suddenly you can actually see what it is. And because you can see, you no longer take it for granted (M.J. Ryan in Attitudes of Gratitude).”
We never feel appreciated enough. Your boss doesn’t recognize your good work; your spouse didn’t notice that you washed the dishes and did the laundry; people freak out when you make one mistake (after you did thousands of good things); your children take, take, take…and only occasionally give. As Rodney Dangerfield would say, “you get no respect.” Feeling gratitude when you’re underappreciated is very difficult work.
But it turns out it may just be the key to happiness. I’m not kidding. Experts (Can you believe there are “happiness experts?” I wonder if they’re happy) have proven that feeling and expressing gratitude may be the single most important part of the formula for happiness – they have found that gratitude actually, physically, scientifically, does something good to your brain.
OK, that’s nice, but it seems like each year, I have to work harder to stay grateful and positive. In my lucid moments, I certainly know how fortunate I am. However, life seems to get harder every year. The winter can seem longer, the daylight hours shorter, prices increase, bills get bigger, and the media runs a constant loop of reminders of how many bad things are happening in the world.
Like anything worthwhile, living in an appreciative way is difficult – you have to work at it. You have to stay constantly mindful of it. You have to try to always surround yourself with positive, grateful people. Happiness expert (honestly) Shawn Achor encourages us to make a list of what it will take to feel more gratitude. We make lists about budgets, groceries, dieting, things to do, etc. I guess it does make sense to be more systematic about the one thing that can make our lives most enjoyable.
Think about it: Whether we are rich or poor, heavy or light, tall or short, beautiful or not, none of it matters unless we’re happy. We all know plenty of good looking, successful people who are miserable. So perhaps before making our traditional lists, we should start the habit of improving our ability to feel gratitude. I get asked a lot why this kind of stuff matters to a school principal. Shouldn’t I just concern myself with test scores and other data? My answer to this is simple: It matters to me because happy, positive people have a tendency to give rise to more happy, positive people, and I’d like my students to be influenced by a culture of gratitude, happiness and positivity. I’d like them to cultivate an attitude of endless possibilities as opposed to feeling that life is just one multi-layered dead end.
Life’s too short to wallow in misery (Have you tried wallowing? It’s just no fun!). With the holiday season upon us, I can’t imagine a better time to start focusing on gratitude and passing that feeling on to our kids. So, what are you grateful for? Well, what are you waiting for… write it down!
Speaking of lists...please see the Holiday Challenge Below - Go Over it with Your Children if You Can
The Holiday Challenge to Our Students
See how many of the following tasks you can accomplish by January 1, 2020.
- Think of a student with whom you have never been friends or never gotten along – reach out in kindness to him/her.
- Say “thank you” to someone whom you know deserves it – you can start with the people who take care of you at home.
- Be the first one to say “hi,” “hello,” “good morning” or “good afternoon” to others when passing by – even grown-ups!
- Do not allow ANY student to sit alone at lunch.
- If working in groups in class, do not let a student go without a partner – do not ever let one of our fellow students feel alone.
- When communicating with others in person or via phone or on line, walk away, hang up or log off immediately when things become inappropriate, gossipy or overly “dramatic.” This will be your statement that you will not stand by idly and contribute to making the world a lesser place.
- Do something humbling, like cleaning the bathroom at home, washing dishes or cleaning up after pets.
- Ask at least one relative not to buy you a gift, but rather to make a contribution to a needier child or cause in your name.
- Use your own money to donate to a worthy cause – if you do not have any money, ask if you can do something to earn some, then donate it.
- Take note each day, at least in the morning and at night, of all that you have. Try actually making a list, keeping it near your bed and adding to it as the days pass by.
Use of Power School and Schoology
If you need any help accessing this program, please contact your child's Homeroom Teacher.