By Amy Rogan
Assistant Professor of Communication & Adviser to The Pulse
I have questions…but not the kind you might expect. I’m not distributing a quiz or issuing an assignment to my students. Just a few simple questions that may shift your focus from your “have-nots” to your “haves.”
My sister recently gave me a book called “Growing Grateful” by Mary A. Kassian. It’s a book of 101 meditations and the very first one caught my attention. So much so that I shared it with my speech class. This first paragraph said this:
Research reveals that being grateful comes with a crop of side benefits. People who are grateful are more hopeful, energetic, and positive, while being less envious, anxious, and depressed. Grateful people also tend to have more willpower and be more empathetic, compassionate, and helpful–and to have greater integrity and faith. Overall they feel significantly more optimistic and satisfied with life than those who fail to express gratitude.
The research the author referred to was noted in a blog post on Psych Central by Lauren Suval called The Relationship Between Happiness and Gratitude. Psych Central is a part of Healthline Media.
As we move closer to the two-year mark since COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, we can certainly say we are fatigued. And I am fatigued of being fatigued. We are COVID-weary warriors trying to cope with new normals and praying we go back to normal-formerly-known-as-“normal”. But should that be our expectation? Can we accept where we are and that things will never be the same?
It really comes down to what you concentrate on and what you decide to be. Are you focused on the things that bother you, make you angry, hurt you, or inconvenience you? Or are you focused on the things that make you happy, heal you, and help you—no matter how small or big?
Do you smile when you hear a small child singing in the grocery store or when you see a dog happily trotting next to its owner walking on the sidewalk?
Are you grateful for the people around you doing what they can to keep you safe or are you resentful that you have to wear a mask?
So let’s go back to the passage I referenced. Would you say “no” to being any of these things: hopeful, energetic, positive, less envious, anxious, and depressed? Then isn’t it each of our individual choices to be those things simply by finding the little things to be grateful for in everyday life? After all, those of us in academia love our studies. And if the research shows being grateful equals more happiness, then that seems like an awfully small action for a big return.