The start of a New Year is always one of anticipation for change. Whether we call this hope for change a resolution, an intention or a goal, it comes down to virtually the same thing, we are all trying to make positive changes in our lives for the year ahead. While it is a noble thing to think of a New Year as a stepping stone to a make-over of one kind or another, apparently as human beings we fail miserably at it. According to a recent survey, 80% of our New Year’s resolutions go out the window by the second week of February. Kind of disheartening isn’t it?

Instead of resolutions then, perhaps we would do better to focus our attention on creating new patterns in our thoughts. It is with this concept in mind that for the last five years CGS has maintained a Gratitude Jar. You may have seen it at the front desk. Students, staff, parents and visitors all have the opportunity to bring their gratitude to life by taking note of something they are grateful for and adding it to the jar.

Practising gratitude means different things to different people. To some, it is pausing to notice everything we have. To others, it is cherishing every waking moment and recognizing the preciousness of life. Some people see gratitude as finding peace in what they have, and indeed, in what they don’t have. Many feel that gratitude is the best way to find love and happiness. Whatever form gratitude may take, there is no doubt that practising gratitude brings joy, satisfaction and a wellness to our lives unlike anything else we may do.

The first few days back to school after the Christmas Break are some of my happiest and most meaningful because I get to empty out our Gratitude Jar. I read, count and compile a list of all the entries made during the previous calendar year and then report back to the school community. Last year we hit an all-time high of Gratitude Jar deposits. This year we were only a few submissions short of our record with a whopping 240 entries. How wonderful it is to know that our gratitude practice is thriving at CGS.

I would love to share all of the entries with you but of course that is impossible. I can tell you that submissions came from staff, parents, and students, including our youngest Early Starters who make deposits into the jar most Fridays during their Library time. Gratitude was expressed for a variety of things, including Mommy and Daddy, siblings, Grandparents and even a special shout out to ‘Aunty Rose’. There were notes for friends and strangers too – firefighters, doctors and even the military got special mention.

There was a big focus on the school experience with 56 entries about days spent at CGS including assemblies, the musical, Pancake Breakfast, pizza lunches, stickers, recess and the playground. Reading “I am grateful that everything at CGS is teamwork and that everyone is so helpful and supportive” sure made my heart swell! The CGS Staff were thanked 58 times. Words like talented, supportive, helpful, lovely, amazing and wonderful were used on more than one occasion. As a community, we were also grateful for things like our warm beds, food in our tummies, socks on our feet, sunshine and snow storms, flowers, butterflies and our Earth. And how amazing that one young student wrote “I am grateful for everything and everybody in the universe”. Another student entry read “I am grateful for absolutely everything I have and everything I get”. I could go on and on but let’s finish with the submission that simply read “I love the world!”

From the success of this wonderful daily practice that we incorporate into our lives at CGS, we should take comfort in knowing that grateful people are more positive and more motivated to do better in this world. The Gratitude Jar is always available in the school office and I encourage all of you to take a moment to pause and give thanks in this very tangible way. Especially at this tumultuous time in our world’s history, I for one like to think that a life of gratitude promises better tomorrows.

With gratitude for all of you and hope for our New Year ahead,

Marie Bates
Principal and Co-Founder
Children’s Garden School