Over the past decade, there has been much said in the secular world about the power of gratitude. It is well-researched that gratitude brings a wonderful sense of fulfilment. Counsellors, Psychologists and wellbeing programs all encourage participants to make time to savour the moments in a day, and when people do this, they discover a greater depth of happiness. This is hardly revolutionary to those who read God’s Word. Scripture tells us over and over again to ‘give thanks’. God knows this attitude of being grateful is critical to our wellbeing.
‘Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ Thessalonians 5:16–18 (ESV)
‘Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!’ Psalm 107:1–3 (ESV)
‘Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!' Psalm 95:2 (ESV)
‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.’ Colossians 3:16–17 (ESV)
We could continue with many verses reminding us to never stop thanking God for His goodness to us and what a great practice this is each day. A wise person once told me you can start a day one of two ways, either with, ‘Oh God, it’s morning!’ or ‘Thank you God, for this morning.’ Whichever you choose will certainly shape your day.
It is also well documented in wellbeing articles the importance of showing gratitude to others, even if in a very small way. This does not just boost their happiness, but also increases the overall happiness of the person showing gratefulness. The Bible encourages us to show God’s love to others and to never tire of blessing others.
‘So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up.’ Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
‘For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers.’ Hebrews 6:10 (ESV)
However, it may seem strange, but a teacher I can struggle to feel appreciated. I have, at times, been envious of tilers, painters and especially carpet layers! At the end of their day, they can look back and clearly see what they have achieved that day. Whilst they often start early in the day (like teachers) by the end of their day they can see the immediate impact of their work (unlike teachers on many days). The bathroom is newly tiled, walls painted and bedrooms carpeted. All to the delight of their client!
Whilst we have taught lessons, marked student work, assisted students, managed behaviour, bandaged scrapes, put ice on bruises and handled queries from parents, much of our work is not visible for years to come.
Work in schools can, at times, be a thankless task. True appreciation that we made a difference often does not occur until a number of years later when we might be acknowledged by a former student.
However, this week has been one where we have experienced the joy of seeing work completed (or maybe partially completed). The conclusion of the final assembly for Year 12 students was an incredible experience. Students from Foundation to Year 11 at the South Plympton site formed a Guard of Honour as the Year 12 students departed. Even though I had not personally taught any of these students, looking at their faces which showed a mixture of pride, apprehension and sadness was quite overwhelming. They were also overwhelmed by the sea of faces to farewell them and show them gratitude for their service and leadership.
Staff at the College were also shown appreciation by the parent community who provided a very generous morning tea for World Teachers’ Day.
Students across various year levels are encouraged to find various ways to express gratitude. The South Plympton Junior School students all wrote letters to staff and handed them out on World Teachers’ Day. The excitement and joy on students’ faces, as they thanked their teachers and support staff certainly showed the power of appreciation.
By showing gratitude to others in simple ways you will have an immediate boost to your own wellbeing and happiness. Try thanking the person collecting the trolleys in the shopping centre. I really appreciate that they hunt down the trolleys saving me that task. Try thanking the postman who delivered your parcel. Importantly teach your children the power of gratitude both to our Heavenly Father and to others.
One small, thoughtful gesture can make someone else's day and will increase your overall happiness and wellbeing.