In honor of World Gratitude Day (Sept 21st), we are proud to feature guest blogger Michelle Salcedo, M.Ed., who writes here about how a small shift in mindset can help each of us adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Michelle has been an early childhood educator for more than 30 years, starting as a “teacher helper” in her little brother’s preschool classroom. Today she serves as the Chief Academic Officer of The Sunshine House. She is also the author of Uncover the Roots of Challenging Behavior: Create Responsive Environments Where Young Children Thrive. You can learn more about Michelle and her many projects at https://www.facebook.com/authorsalcedo/ and www.michelledsalcedo.com.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow”
The Concept of Gratitude
Recently I had an epiphany about the concept of gratitude, and it all started with a bunch of men in red shorts and blue shirts. No, I am not part of a strange fashion-regulated book club. Instead, this life lesson began with Instagram (as so many do).
I read about an Instagram page on which users post pictures of men who wear red shorts and blue shirts. While I was amused, I was somewhat incredulous as to how widespread this phenomenon might be–surely it was not happening in my city. Boy was I wrong! As soon as my eyes were opened, I began to see this particular fashion choice all over the place: while strolling down the street, at the grocery store, enjoying an outside concert–everywhere. But, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with gratitude?
We Can Choose What We See In The World
Here is the thing. I imagine that men have been wearing red shorts and blue shirts for a long time. Surely this is not “new news.” What is new is that I have begun to look for, and by extension, notice it. What is in the world has not changed; the lens through which I see it has. Aside from what we choose to put into the world, we cannot control what is in it. What Instagram taught me, though, is that we can choose what we see in the world.
I can choose to walk through my life and see it through a lens of gratitude. As an early childhood educator, there are plenty of opportunities to put this outlook into practice. I can be frustrated that a little girl is disruptive, or I can be grateful that I can help her make sense of her world. I can be upset that a young boy is not following directions, or I can be grateful that he has an independent spirit that deserves celebrating. Gratitude may not cause their behaviors to change, but it will shift my behavior and how I react to them.
When You Start To Look For Reasons To Be Grateful, You Will Find Them
Like men in red shorts and blue shirts, when you start to look for reasons to be grateful, you will find them. As you start to seek out gratitude, you will notice other shifts in your life. You will begin experiencing less stress, as you find fewer reasons to become aggravated and upset. You will feel more positivity, as you start to take less notice of the bad and more notice of the good. Both of these shifts can have a dramatic impact on your psychological and physical wellbeing.
Make Gratitude A Habit
Studies have found that it can take as little as 18 days to form a new habit. Now is the perfect day to begin to make gratitude a habit. Here is a little game to get you started on this path toward gratitude. Pick something to look for, maybe a certain number, or a make of car, or even a man in red shorts and a blue shirt. When you notice that item (and you will!), mentally pause and take in your surroundings. Find something for which you can be grateful and name it out loud (if you can do so without drawing too many strange looks from passersby). Do this each time you see that object, and before you know it, gratitude will be ingrained in your life.
Who knows? Red shorts and blue shirts may be a passing fad, soon to be replaced by another interesting combination of colors or fabrics. But the power of gratitude is never-ending–choose to live in it.
Thank you, Michelle, for your thoughts; we at Kindermusik are grateful! And because we tend to celebrate everything with a song, here’s one about how good it feels “in your heart” when you have gratitude.
For more music and fun, or to find a Kindermusik class near you, please visit www.kindermusik.com. We’d be grateful to have you join us!