Gratitude; The Essential Character Strength
In the words of Confucius,
“I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.” ~Confucius
Character shapes our personality and makes our identity and all of us will agree that it is much more essential than the critical academics at school. It is that piece of the puzzle which cannot under any circumstance be ignored or under-rated. Parents know this and want to see it in every child.
Character building amongst our children is the responsibility of the society as a whole and there are different ways of doing it. One way is through Workshops. The Gratitude Workshop does just that; it reinforces one of the most important character strengths alongside home and school.
Dr. Martin Seligman (Ph.D) from the University of Pennsylvania and the late Dr. Christopher Peterson from university of Michigan researched and found a list of 24 most important universal character strengths that are same across culture, race, class, gender, geography and help people flourish. To know more read the article 24 character strengths and PERMA.
The KIPP charter school network in USA believes that 7 of them have the greatest impact and are predictive of positive life outcomes later in life. One of them is Gratitude.
Character strength vs Character trait
I call Gratitude, a character strength rather than a character trait or personality trait. The reason is very obvious but requires a bit of reflection on our parts. Trait is more often referred to something we can’t change like the color of our eyes. Gratitude is not a personality trait that we were born with or it is not something we cannot have. It is a strength; something that we can make stronger by practice. It can be taught, developed and ingrained in our characters. The more we learn and practice it, the better we become in it. Grabbing every opportunity to weave character in the very DNA of our children is not only our responsibility but also the solid foundation for a grateful, humble and happy society in the future.
Practicing Gratitude Outcomes
Gratitude is one of the greatest virtues that one can have. Having and showing gratitude makes us:
- Happy, Positive and Peaceful
- I am thankful to my parents for taking care of me.
- I am thankful to my teachers for educating me and building my character.
- I am thankful to Allah / God for giving me a healthy body, mind and soul.
- I am thankful to my friends for being there for me when I need them.
There are many actions that one can take. Some are listed below.
The Gratitude Journal:
- Take any diary or notebook and turn it into a gratitude journal.
- Write daily and religiously.
- The best time to do this is after waking up and before going to bed.
- Write 5 things you are thankful for during the day. You can start with 1 thing. Emphasis is on discipline meaning doing it daily. Alternatively, thinking about them can also work if you say it mentally during a shower. You can also record it in your phone on your way to school or work.
- Make time by doing this in shower, commuting to school or work in the vehicle. Parents can do it together with their kids during commute. It is a great way of strengthening a binding connection with your kids, being there for them and growing up with them. Teacher can do it once a week with their students or as time permits. Substitution periods can also utilize such activities.
The Gratitude Give-aways:
- Money Buying some-one a small gift, sharing a chocolate or lunch, donating your stuff are some ways of showing gratitude with money.
- Time Helping some-one with homework, comforting and advising your friends, playing with younger siblings, cleaning and helping around the house, tutoring under-privileged some-one who cannot go to school are some ways of showing gratitude with your time.
- Other Resources Using your artistic talent to make gratitude cards, paintings or crafts is also a great way.
The Gratitude speech:
- Using words like Thank-you and Welcome when some-one shows kindness to you.
- Smiling. Smile is a language that everyone speaks and understands.