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Attitudes of Gratitude

Whether one listens to the radio or reads a news article, it sometimes seems nowadays as if there is nothing left in this world worth being grateful for. It is because of this ever-present negativity that one must look that much harder within themselves to recognize and be thankful for what makes them happy.

With Thanksgiving day soon approaching, one is left to wonder what makes people grateful in a world where it sometimes seems as though many people are as far from thankfulness as the East is from the West.

When thinking about what college students are thankful for, one might assume that the list simply includes things such as nights with no homework, higher education, cancelled 8 a.m. classes, snow-days and care packages from mom and dad. While these predictions may seem simplistic, they reflect the stereotypes surrounding college students.

To see if these stereotypes are actually accurate reflections of students today, UMBC students were recently asked to record on a poster board the thing for which they are most grateful. Contrary to often purported stereotypes, the majority of students recorded that they were most thankful for the support and friendship of their peers and parents.

Zhenhui Li, a sophomore, stated, ” I am thankful for my loving friends and their support.” He also echoed a line from the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, noting that “each life touches the lives of so many others.”

Confirming one positive stereotype, freshman Eric Connor, stated “I am thankful for a great school.” Connor’s sentiment was repeated several times on the poster board.

One student, a junior and a retired Army soldier who wished to remain anonymous, “I am thankful for my friends who sacrificed their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I still don’t know why I lived and they did not. I will never forgive myself.”

Being grateful for what one has is effortless when times are good, but when times are tough it is easy to lose sight of the good things in one’s life that deserve their thanks. Developing a reserve of gratitude can help one to get through difficult times and lead them to an overall more positive outlook on life.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can begin with something as simple as counting one’s blessings. Writing down any people, places and things that one is grateful for is another way to remind oneself of the many features of one’s life for which they have to be thankful.

Keeping a written record of things that one is appreciative of is a great way of reminding oneself that even in hard times, there is still much to be thankful for. Looking over gratitude lists can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart related illness.

Having an attitude of gratitude is a choice. In this world plagued with so many sources of negativity, it is important to remember that each rose has thorns, and for every dark and cold day, there is a warm and bright day coming.