Happiness, Gratitude, and Success

Today I’m thankful for:

1. The autumn colours starting to show

2. Hugs (because hugs are great!)

 

3. The opportunity to help students achieve their success

 


Recently I started keeping a gratitude journal of sorts. Every morning a friend and I text each other 3 things we’re thankful for so that we can share in each other’s gratitude and start the day off on a positive note. In doing this, we’re hoping to see the positive benefits of being more appreciative of the world around us and the moments we are in as they are happening. Synapses that fire together wire together, as they say.

When you ask people what they want most out of life, many will give you the same answer: to be happy. We often talk about happiness as an end goal, a destination, or as a means to an end. Telling ourselves, “Once this happens, I’ll be happy.” Happiness is a now, not a there.  Being grateful every day is a great way to help you appreciate the brighter side of life regularly. I’d highly recommend it.

This kind of thing isn’t new. People have been doing gratitude journals for years. People have also been studying happiness for years as well. Albeit, not as long as they have been studying depression (I find this very interesting), but still a decent length of time.

So, how does all this talk about gratitude and happiness relate to my work in Student Learning and Transitions? Well, with midterm exams approaching next week, students have been both in my office and the drop-in center next to my open office door, talking a lot about struggles with life balance, stress, and homework management. In many (but not all) of my interactions with students, we often need to start our conversation with happiness first. Before students can be successful with their academic pursuits, first they need help finding that life balance. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of reframing the conversation to what’s going well, which in essence is very similar to talking about the things we’re grateful for. Having these conversations builds relationships and helps to relieve some of the stress that students often don’t even know they are carrying. Afterwards, students are better able to transition into an academic conversation, eager to rise to the challenges ahead of them, rather than weighed down by the perceived impossibility of it all. Again, this kind of thing isn’t new, but for some reason, it’s still a staple in my conversations with students.

I consider myself very privileged to work in a department where I can support students in the ways they most need to be supported. With a plethora of points of referral available to me, I am sometimes shocked at the number of resources we have. This shocked feeling comes from the fact that during my degree I didn’t access resources available to me because I didn’t know they existed. I wasn’t actively looking for help, though. I thought it was normal to be stressed all the time, tired all the time, and that procrastination was a university student’s way of life. This was me:

giphy

 

It was a tough go on my own, but I succeeded. So now that I am in a role where on a daily basis I get to tell students; “Yep, we can help with that! You don’t have to go it alone. Let me book you an appointment. Here’s what we can do to help you succeed…” I can’t help but be thankful.

Don’t be like me and slide cat; come see us, we can help!