Gratitude, according to psychologists, is the healthiest of all human emotions—good for both giver and receiver alike. Gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (the brain’s stress regulation center) and the ventral tegmental area, which is a key part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure. Hans Selye, a renowned scientist who “discovered” stress, believes that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than does any other temperament.
We don’t need science to tell us that focusing on life’s positive aspects makes us happier than does dwelling on the negatives—that’s pure common sense, or so says ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus: “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has,” as quoted in a recent NY Times article on the subject.
This month, students at The New Century School have been demonstrating gratitude in all kinds of ways, from giving back to the local community to collaborating on a special feast (and, true to the TNCS spirit, in multiple languages!).
After donating a good-sized food collection to community outreach center Beans & Bread during American Education Week—and thank you to the Burton family for delivering the TNCS collection—TNCS students used the following week to show their thanks a little closer to home. First, Head of School Alicia Danyali interviewed the Upper Elementary students for their thoughts on what they are grateful for. Here are some highlights:
- “I am thankful for my health.”
- “I am thankful for my family and the opportunities they have given me.”
- “I am thankful for my family, food, and really everything.”
Professor Manuel’s K/1st students made cornucopias holding pictures of family members—and worked in plenty of relevant Spanish vocabulary!
It all culminated with the annual Thanksgiving Feast, which K/1st teacher Teresa Jacoby started off with a moving thank-you to the students, fellow teachers, and the TNCS families who together make up our magnificent community.
This time of year brings out the best in us, but we can do ourselves a lot of good by making gratitude a routine all year long. That’s what TNCS students seem to be telling us anyway.
And so thank you, as always, for reading!