We believe that gratitude is a key element to happiness.
Nothing in life works like gratitude to uplift us spiritually, to set and keep us on the road to recovery. Nothing is more powerful against negative emotions, or works faster to relieve depression, mend relationships, raise our energy levels, extend our life span, reduce stress or make us more productive.
And yet, when we’re stuck in our pride, our resentments or self-pity, nothing is harder to summon than an attitude of gratitude.
That’s one of the first challenges students here face: stepping away from the anger and frustration they feel at being here long enough to see something – anything – positive in the situation. Even if it’s just looking at a fellow student and thinking I’m glad I don’t have his problems… I’m lucky not to be in her shoes.
It’s easy to be grateful when things go our way, of course; when life is all blue skies and green lights. Not so easy when things sour and misfortune strikes. And yet, even in moments of intense pain and frustration, the tremendous benefits of gratitude are there for the taking. We just need to drop our hurt pride and self-pity long enough to consider our blessings: our health, our talents, our friendships, our material possessions, even our struggles and difficulties themselves and the opportunities they give us to learn and grow.
The attitude of gratitude is a choice, a willingness to let life’s difficulties recede while we embrace its gifts, big and small. Count your blessings not your troubles, said Dale Carnegie. There’s no surer way to happiness than that.
By Ali G.
19 months ago, I climbed the stairs of the Family Foundation School, scantily clad in a short skirt and high heels. It was a Monday morning, but I didn’t plan on staying in school for long. I came in spitting venom, with my head down and my claws out.
Now I’ll be walking down those same stairs. I’ll have my family and friends around me and I’ll be wearing the requisite deep blue cap and gown. It’s possible that I will stumble—I’ve learned many things over the course of my stay here, but how to walk in high heels was not one of them. The knowledge I gained less tangible, maybe a bit harder to quantify. Yet, I’ve grown up.
As I type this, I’m sitting at a desk in the Main Office. The desk is placed on the floor I once laid on, refusing to move until the school switched me out of Spanish class. I remained until I got hungry. When I was sixteen, I was at once six years old, impetuous, selfish and entitled, and sixty-six, jaded, exhausted and (I thought) completely finished with what life had to give me. I learned to tame my destructive passions, and not fight battles that were beyond, not to fight the hand that fed me, and listen to those who knew more than I. I learned to nurture my constructive passions, rejoining Chorus for the first time since middle school, connecting with my peers in a very real way, and voraciously reading all the books that I finally had time for. I found me.
Soon, I’ll take it all with me, and I’ll be leaving, but I will not be gone. I’ll be leaving in Binghamton, at the off-campus Bridge Program. It’s possible that I will stumble, but I’ve learned so many things. I can’t wait to live another day, and that alone is my miracle.