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The Power of Gratitude

By Sandra Santana
Mount Ida is alive with a warmth only the holidays can bring. As students fill the halls exchanging hugs and holiday plans, a profound sense of gratitude floats through the air. Thanksgiving break is upon us, signaling the final stretch of the fall semester, and a time to reset with the ones we love.
On Thursday, Emma Willard School gathered to enjoy a special meal before departing for break, providing an opportunity to share meaningful time and space with one another. Advisors hosted advisee groups all throughout campus for a delicious lunch featuring Thanksgiving favorites (such as turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce to name a few) prepared by our wonderful dining hall staff. The invitation was thoughtfully extended to faculty and staff, allowing for connection, both old and new, within our school community. 

The echoes of gratitude followed into Morning Reports, when Vernette B. ’24 centered us with a moving reflection and reminder about the upcoming Holiday break:

“Next Thursday is the American holiday of Thanksgiving. The history behind Thanksgiving is certainly fraught, especially when considering the oppression and decimation of the indigenous people who had inhabited these lands before European colonists arrived. However, the idea of a holiday dedicated to giving thanks – for the harvest, for safe journeys, for the natural beauty of the world, or for making it to this season – is not limited to the American context, and can be found in many cultures around the world.
 
Thanksgiving holidays present opportunities to pause, reflect, and appreciate what we have. In contrast to the rush of 21st century living, true “Thanksgiving” requires that we take a step off the hamster wheel of the day-to-day, center our attention on the here-and-now, and be mindful of what and who we have in our lives. Gratitude is more than just feeling good about the parts of our lives that are going well. It encompasses the willingness to expand our attention so that we perceive more of the goodness that we are always receiving. 
 
The benefits of gratitude are huge, and not only for those on the receiving end. Over the last 20 years or so, a growing body of research has linked gratitude practices with improved social, emotional, and even physical health.
 
As our community heads into Thanksgiving break, we want everyone to experience the benefits of gratitude with the following brief exercise. 
 
Close your eyes. Settle yourself in a relaxed posture. Take a few deep, calming breaths to relax and center. 
 
Let your awareness move to your immediate environment: all the things you can smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
 
Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom you are close: your friends, or your family. Say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful.”
 
Next, turn your attention onto yourself: you are a unique individual, blessed with imagination, the ability to communicate, to learn from the past and plan for the future, and to overcome the challenges you may be experiencing. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
 
Finally, rest in the realization that life is a precious gift. That you have been born into a period of immense possibility, that you have the gift of health, culture, and access to learning. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.” (Still Mind, 2014)”

The Morning Reports team also shared a joyful video highlighting members of the community sharing what they are thankful for:


On behalf of Emma Willard School, we wish you a relaxing and gratitude-filled Thanksgiving break.
    • Dr. Ashley L. Bennett and her advisee group enjoying lunch!


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Honoring its founder’s vision, Emma Willard School proudly fosters in each young woman a love of learning, the habits of an intellectual life, and the character, moral strength, and qualities of leadership to serve and shape her world.
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