I invite you to look at gratitude practice from a different angle. We all know that gratitude practice is beneficial. It makes us appreciate people and what they do for us and for everyone else. It fills us with optimism and promotes a positive outlook on life. But recently, I discovered something else about my gratitude practice.
Some time ago I was listening to a podcast about productivity and setting goals and intentions, and what the speaker said hit home so hard! His point was that before we set up our intentions and goals, we should acknowledge where we are, what we have achieved and what we are thankful for. And then from that place of a feeling of abundance, self-worth and self-confidence, we should plan ahead and set our goals and intentions. Wow! This was profound for me!
I do my Sankalpa work (setting intentions) every six months and by the time you read this, I will have completed my January work. This time I plan to approach my Sankalpa a bit differently, based on this new understanding.
After listening to that podcast, I also thought about how I could incorporate this idea into my everyday personal gratitude practice and with my students at school.
Gratitude practice is a big concept, and, to me, it’s personal and intimate. I used to take a minute every day before bed and think of all the wonderful people in my life and events that had happened that day, feeling grateful and blessed. The same in my classroom—I liked to wrap up the day with what we had learned and what good things had happened that day.
However, I thought, what if I approach my gratitude practice differently? What if I think about what I’m grateful for first thing when I wake up and then set my intentions for the day from that place of abundance and richness of what I have and who I am?
And at school, what if we say what we’re grateful for in the morning before we do any work and then continue our learning from a place of self-worth, self-love and what we already know and have achieved?
I will be completely honest with you, this shift made a huge difference for me. Instead of looking at my gratitude practice as a reward for a day lived and saying something like “the day was such and such, but at least I’m grateful for this,” I now begin each day with an acknowledgement of what is great in my life and try to keep that grateful feeling all day long and even expand it.
To explain it the teacher’s way, it’s like this. Instead of giving myself a sticker for every good thing that happens and seeing how many I collected at the end of the day, I give myself a whole sheet of stickers at the beginning of the day and try to keep them all to the end of the day.
I hope my personal experience with Gratitude Practice (and you can see I’m using capital letters here because now it feels this important to me) inspires you to start your own, or to reflect on your existing personal practice and what you do with your students and perhaps make some changes. Or you can reevaluate your Gratitude Practice and confirm that it’s good and serves you and your students well! It’s your call!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Irina Kazakevic is an elementary school teacher in Ontario and the Founder of Yoga Break for Children which offers Children’s Yoga Cards and online training for yoga for kids teachers. yogabreakforchildren.com
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Winter 2020 issue.