Over the last few weeks, I have been reflecting on our 2022 school year as I have been preparing articles for the different events and publications that occur in Term 4. This has included Voices (our college magazine), MSM Celebrates, Aspire (a newsletter for enrolled families who are yet to commence at the College), Fide et Amore (our Alumni newsletter) and MSM Alive (our community newsletter).
One of the common themes has been my expression of gratitude to the different sectors of our community who contribute in so many ways to make up our wonderful family that we call MSM. Gratitude is one of our key components of our Positive Education program and having a “positive attitude and a heart of gratitude” has been the mantra of MSM.
I was recently reading a blog by Dr Kathline Colvin on the “Three Stages of Gratitude”. The first stage is “feeling grateful for the good things in your life”. This is a practice that we regularly encourage our students to devote time to, for example, regularly writing in a gratitude journal and we dedicate time in our Positive Education program to do this. I believe that identifying what we need to feel grateful for in our lives, has been vital to surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. It is easy to lament the things that we feel that we have missed out on, but we should also value our learnings as we rediscovered what is truly important in our lives…our relationships (family, friends, colleagues, teachers etc).
This brings me to the second stage which is “expressing your gratitude to the people who have made your life better”. Our students are encouraged to do this in various ways through our Retreat programs. Students demonstrate great courage when they give voice to their gratitude to the people who have made a difference to them – this is powerful. They also write affirmations which are shared confidentially, and these special pieces of paper are often treasured well after our students' time at MSM has finished. Our Year 12 students will also share a letter of gratitude to their parents at the Graduation Dinner – this is a very important part of our graduation rituals.
The third stage is “adopting new behaviours as a result of interacting with those who have helped you”. This is the most challenging stage. In her blog Dr Colvin quotes Deepak Chopra “When your gratitude leads to showing more sympathy, less judgement and greater appreciation for life itself, you are setting the stage for years of positive reinforcement. By adopting gratitude as your default position, so to speak, you tell your brain that positive input is going to far outweigh negative input. Mixed signals lead to mixed results. By being consistent in your attitude of gratitude, you set down a blueprint that over time leads to brain changes with far-seeing benefits”.
As we approach the final two weeks of the school year there is still much to do. We continue to pray for our Year 12 students who finish their external exams on Tuesday. Students in Years 7-11 are entering assessment mode and our thoughts and prayers turn to them. It has been a huge year and we are all feeling tired, so it is time for the “final push”.
In our Catholic/Christian context we can draw inspiration from Mother Theresa who said “Gratitude to God is to accept everything, even my problems with joy. Joy is my prayer. Joy is my strength”.
May you find joy and an attitude of gratitude in the coming weeks.
In faith and love