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Building Optimism and Positive Emotions

Gratitude is about being thankful and appreciative of things in our lives, or even life itself. Described by many as a sense of wonder, gratitude is about building optimism and positive emotions.

Too often we focus on what hasn’t gone well. As teachers and students, it is easy to fall into the trap of, “Did you see where I read out the wrong name at assembly?” Often we overlook the fact that everything else went outstandingly well. How often have we heard students focus on the one word they got wrong in their spelling test, when they managed to get 19 correct, or even as parents, dwelling on the messy room, despite the fact that our child worked really hard all term and achieved his or her best grades yet.

Cultivating gratitude is an opportunity to focus on what went well, focusing on almost all areas of the PERMA + framework, within which our Positive Education programs comfortably sit. Positive emotions are integral to gratitude cultivation. United States researcher Barbara Freidrichsen found that people who experience positive versus negative emotions in a ratio of 3:1 are more likely to flourish in their lives.

You might wish to complete Freidrichsen’s online survey to ascertain how your own emotions over the last 24 hours affect your positivity ratio.

Gratitude also strengthens engagement and relationships. Research has shown that people who feel gratitude towards others feel closer to these people. Grateful people are also more likely to forgive.

I am certain we all would like to enjoy a good night’s sleep. Gratitude cultivation also can improve your sleep, and being well-rested results in many health benefits, including a higher stress threshold, improved memory and concentration, increased creativity, lower blood pressure and decreased weight gain.

A very effective way to cultivate gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Each day write down three good things that went well that day – things for which you are grateful.  Ideally you would take the time to reflect on each these. Why did they go well? How did you or others contribute to this success? I take the time to do this before leaving my office each night, and I find it energises me to rise above challenges and proceed towards my goals.

We are all busy people though, so some have found other ways to do this. You need to find a means of cultivating gratitude that is a good fit for you -and do it on a regular basis. I write an entry in my electronic diary each day before I leave work each night. When I look back at the year, I feel not just a sense of accomplishment, but I get a very warm feeling that gives me a great sense of hope, or optimism, for the future.

As a staff team, we begin every staff meeting with a ‘What Went Well’ or an expression of gratitude, and sometimes a priming activity, to refocus us on what is good about the world, and to put things into perspective. Our students are being taught through their Positive Education programs to consider if their problem is an ant or an elephant. Where does it sit on the catastrophe scale (1-10)?

Best wishes with the cultivation of gratitude in your life. Start by focusing on what went well and good habits will form.

Announcing our 2021 College Captains

Congratulations to our 2021 College Captains Stella Russo and Gabby Cook, as well as Vice-Captains, Oscar Collins and Leah Bailey. This is a strong leadership team indeed.


We are grateful for the work of this year’s captains, Jake Felix, Alicia Crowhurst and Jennifer Panozzo.           

Speech and Awards Ceremony

It gives me much pleasure to announce that our guest speaker this year is three-time Olympian, Rachel Sporn. Rachel has some wonderful messages of resilience and grit to share with our Years 5 – 12 students, who will all be present for our new afternoon format. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions we are not able to open this event on 3 December to all parents/caregivers this year – hopefully next year will be different! Parents/caregivers of award winners will be invited though, so please save the date as Term 4 results are still being collected.

Thanks for your ongoing support. I am grateful for all that you do!

John Robinson

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