While Thanksgiving may be over, gratitude is in-season 365 days of the year. Recent research into gratitude practices has revealed that this simple approach can yield a number of benefits, including an improved mood and greater resilience in the face of adversity. Educators and students everywhere can leverage the power of a simple gratitude practice to positively rewire their brains.
For most people, exploring what they are grateful for is a natural way to introduce self-reflection. Try setting aside a weekly time to create a list of experiences or people for whom you are grateful. This will allow you to review your week and reflect upon the moments when something went right or when someone positively impacted your life. Even if these moments are small, the simple act of reflecting on your actions and the actions of those around you can lead to a sustained practice of self-reflection.
Gratitude and Resilience
Instead of always pursuing something we do not have, gratitude can help us become aware of and take advantage of the tools and connections that we already possess. Gratitude can also foster cognitive flexibility by shifting our perspective from problems to solutions. When a gratitude practice focuses on the adults in students’ lives who can support them and share their strengths, students can emerge more resilient.
Developing a gratitude practice has been shown to reduce stress. When we think about a good experience or a person who has made a difference in our lives, our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine can trigger other positive emotions, including optimism and intrinsic motivation to meet personal or academic goals. Gratitude practices can also increase levels of serotonin in the brain, which can reduce stress and enhance our mood.
Build Your Executive Function Toolkit
Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register here.
- Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate
SMARTS Executive Function Curriculum: smarts-ef.org
Research Institute for Learning and Development: researchild.org
The Institute for Learning and Development: ildlex.org