Why we Hunt the Good Stuff, and you should too…
You may have noticed that this year the School diary has a section at the end of each week that says ‘Hunt the Good Stuff’. At St Catherine’s we have been hunting the good stuff, or practising gratitude, for seven years. This is because practising gratitude every day, either through a journal or conversation, can have very powerful impacts on your health and wellbeing. Just spending five minutes at the end of each day with your family and talking about the three best parts of the day, or what you are most grateful for, can improve your physical and psychological health.
Studies have shown that gratitude journaling can make you happier and healthier. Robert A Emmons, PhD from the University of California at Davis studied the impact of gratitude journaling. The participants were divided into three groups – the first group described five things they were grateful for, the second group wrote five things that displeased them, and the control group wrote five events that affected them. In ten weeks, participants from the gratitude group were 25% happier than the second group, had fewer health complaints and exercised for an average of 1.5 hours more a week.
Without even trying, we are naturally in the second group. When asked how our day was, we are more likely to detail the things that went wrong (“I couldn’t get a park, the line at the coffee shop was really long, my boss cancelled the early meeting I had to go in for…”) rather than the events of no significance, or the events for which we are grateful. There is an interesting reason for this, especially in girls’ schools – we don’t want to brag.
We would find it odd if we asked someone how their day was and they responded with “I did an awesome job in my presentation, I had a great outfit on and I beat my best step count by 2000 steps!” But there is a difference between gratitude and bragging. Gratitude generally refers to other people, factors, or a person’s own effort that led to a good thing happening. We don’t just do well in a presentation without trying at it. It would be bragging to say we did brilliantly in a presentation. It would be gratitude to say that we did well in a presentation because we practised a lot and we had help rehearsing it. It is important to remind children that gratitude is not being ‘full of yourself’ but thankful for the people around them, happy coincidences, and the effort they have put into their tasks.
Gratitude isn’t just for school students either. Try to practise gratitude by asking questions on the way home from school, around the dinner table, or before bed. Start the conversation by asking:
Try it for three weeks and your family may be happier, healthier, and closer.
Mrs Daisy Turnbull Brown Director of Positive Psychology B Arts B ComGrad Dip EdMA (Theology)
Follow our dedicated Positive Psychology Twitter account: @StCathsPosPsy
A private Anglican day and boarding school for girls, Kindergarten to Year 12. Founded in 1856,
in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
26 Albion Street Waverley
NSW 2024 Australia
Telephone +61 2 8305 6200