Faculty, staff learn ‘power of gratitude’

GVL Photo Illustration / Eric Coulter
The first people to attend the Power of Gratitude event received journals

GVL Photo Illustration / Eric Coulter The first people to attend the Power of Gratitude event received journals

Marcus J. Reynolds

Despite Thursday’s gloomy weather, Grand Valley State University’s faculty and staff were not deterred from discovering the impact of how an attitude of gratitude can have a significant impact on life.

Room 2266 of the Kirkhof Center slowly filled with 30 to 40 faculty and staff members. As people sat down, they were prompted to fill out a survey and raffle ticket.

Sue Sloop, Work Life connections consultant for Health and Wellness, hosted and coordinated the event.

“Participants (learned) the value of living a life of gratitude and some key steps you can take to create a more positive atmosphere in your work environment as well as home life,” Sloop said.

The survey helped audience members to gauge their personal “gratitude barometer” by having them rate their overall health and sleeping patterns and list things for which they are grateful.

The book “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude can make you Happier” by Robert A Emmons was the prize for the raffle winner.

Steve Glass, associate dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Sciences, facilitated the event by sharing insights from the same book.

Glass spoke using a PowerPoint presentation and refferred back to the survey in his opening, which gave audience members a baseline.

The first step asked, how does one improve his or her gratitude barometer?

The main points were to identify strengths and weaknesses, accept what cannot be changed and work on what can be changed.

“Gratitude is something you have to practice over and over,” Glass said. “How you approach daily circumstances is important.”

The hour-long event defined the essence of gratitude, a positive emotion associated with a gift. Ways to improve personal gratitude attitude set were addressed.

Glass said half of people’s gratitude attitude is set, but it can move. The attitude adjusts based on daily circumstances.

Daily journaling was introduced to the participants as a way of recognizing positive events in their lives. The participants were given a journal and asked to record five things they are grateful for each day for a month.

The presenters said the physical rewards of journaling include a decrease in bitterness, resentment and stress. People with a more grateful demeanor have more vitality and higher self-esteem, and they bounce back more quickly when tragedies occur.

“For many years, philosophers and religious teachers have taught that gratitude is an essential part of living an abundant life,” Sloop said. “Current research now supports the benefits of being grateful.”

Students can also benefit from a positive outlook, Glass said. New college students face new challenges, and a positive attitude can help them from feeling overwhelmed.

“The ideal student is the one who looks for challenges, and views it as a positive way to develop them,” Glass said.

The event was packed with information and tips. As attendees left, they verbally expressed thanks to the speaker and other participants.

“I came because I want to live a happier life,” said Londale Nelson, a financial aid counselor. “I learned that we should recognize our gifts and not be stingy in giving them away.”

The next meeting will take place at noon on Dec. 9 in Room 2266 of the Kirkhof Center. Participants will discuss how gratefulness has affected their lives.

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