2017: Mindfulness: Research, Practice, Reflect

Last year around this time I wrote about my first ever New Year’s Resolution.  I’m pleased to say that I actually followed through on this resolution, which required action from me each day, for the whole year!  It was the first time I decided to set a resolution and I didn’t know if I would be able to endure, but I did 🙂  The goal of last year’s resolution was to focus on the moment and remember those small occurrences each day that bring joy and happiness, it was successful! So, I’ve decided to try again this year.  

Stemming from the same idea of being present and focusing on what is important, I’ve decided to explore the concept of Mindfulness.  To get started with explaining what Mindfulness is, I wanted to give a definition and since my understanding of Mindfulness is still limited I’m using the words of one of my favorite resources, the Greater Good Science Center.

“Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.”

Sounds intense!  I’ve done lots of reading about Mindfulness and it’s benefits in a school community.  My plan is to explore Mindfulness for myself; learning, practicing, and reflecting along the way.  My hope is that as I learn more I will, not only help improve myself, but also discover potential applications in the school environment.

To get started I’ve watched a few videos, taken a Mindfulness quiz, and clicked a few links…all from this article.  Have a look if you are at all interested in Mindfulness, it’s an interesting and exciting concept.  

More to come…we shall see 🙂

Practicing Gratitude

This next week is American Thanksgiving.  In preparing for the week and starting to think about what Thanksgiving really means, I’ve been reading a lot about gratitude and why it is so important in our (and our students’) lives.  

“Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life. As adults, it’s our job to help kids discover their passions and to find a path to purpose that resonates with them— with their values, interests, and dreams. This starts with feeding their interests in the social issues they care about and pushing them to learn as much as they can about those issues and discover ways they can make a difference. The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.

Trying to make grateful kids isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for society as well. Society desperately needs to harness the power of gratitude. As our world becomes more culturally diverse and digitally connected, and as complex societal problems mount, gratitude may help catalyze the motivation and skills youth need to succeed not just academically but in the ‘life test’ too. We must all do our part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. But, while there’s no quick fix for cultivating gratitude in young people, the more we remain committed to it, the more rewards we’ll reap. Indeed, by bringing out the best in our kids, we can only imagine what blessings Generation Grateful could bring. Anything worthwhile takes a lot of time and effort. It’s up to all of us to make it happen.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I decided to let the Great Good Science Center say it for me.  This quote comes from an article on their site called Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids.  

As we come down the homestretch of this first half of the year it is easy to get caught up in rushing toward that December holiday; it’s understandable with High School exams coming up, end of the semester projects looming, and the beach, family, or other travels just four weeks away 🙂  

Take some time this week (and every week!) to stop and reflect for yourself.  Gratitude isn’t just something for the kids, it is important for everyone.  There is a lot of research that shows that “very happy people” are happy because of their ability to be grateful for what they have around them.  Whether it’s the relationships they build, through practicing “radical gratitude”, or just because they are happy at their job, gratitude surrounds each of us, we just need to stop and smell the flowers once in awhile!  

Enjoy the week and Thank You for all that you do!!!