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Check out Owen's new book, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Owen's Interview with Dr. Marquita Blades

I was interviewed for a virtual education conference where I am presenting by the inspiration educator and colleague, Dr. Marquita Blades. Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMaiEHe5Djk

Also, please check out Dr. Blades amazing work at:

https://drmarquitablades.com/powarrful-teaching


Friday, February 26, 2021

English Version-My interview with the Spanish Education magazine, Educacion 3.0 was published this week.

This is the English version of the interview published in Educacion 3.0 this week.

Interview with Owen M. Griffith, educator, consultant, mentor and blogger.

Book: Gratitude: a way of Teaching. (Publisher in Spain: Narcea)


· In your book you state that gratitude can change the classroom. What are the elements that make up this feeling of esteem and can transform a class?


Gratitude is more than a pleasant feeling for us and our students. Gratitude is a verb; it is an action. Our gratitude will grow as we practice it consciously and make it part of our lives. As educators, we can bring gratitude into our classrooms by encouraging students to take part regularly in gratitude activities, such as writing in a gratitude journal, verbally expressing gratitude, creating artwork that helps gratitude grow, and also exploring creative new ways to practice gratitude outside the classroom in our families and lives. As we make conscious gratitude part of the lives and ourselves and our students, gratitude elevates the culture of our classrooms. Initially, I was interested in bringing gratitude into the classroom because I read the research that students who practiced gratitude achieved better academically and also had less discipline problems and reported enjoying school more. For teachers, when they utilized gratitude, they experienced less stress, felt more satisfaction in their work, and also felt more willing to help their students and colleagues. After using gratitude in my classroom for over a decade, I can overwhelmingly report that I have found all that to be true. Gratitude is not a panacea that will cure all challenges in education, but it a powerful tool that can improve the culture and climate in any classroom.


· The current situation has forced distance education, how can this gratitude be extended when students from the same centre are separated?


With our current situation with forced distance learning, we can still practice conscious gratitude. In fact, it seems even more important to integrate gratitude into our distance learning to help balance out the difficulties that our students experience. We should first admit that this situation is challenging, but then we can look at the opportunities to bring gratitude into distance learning. I know teachers who will start virtual conferences with students, asking how everyone is, checking in, sharing challenges, and then also asking all students to share at least one thing they are grateful for. This helps balance out all the negatives going on and gives students the opportunity to find the positive things still going on in their lives and with distance learning. Attitudes are contagious, even remotely, and gratitude can help us all survive and even possibly thrive through these challenging times. Also, students and educators should look for empowering stories to share about how people are using creative ways to get through the isolation of social distancing.


· What are the three ingredients you would use to keep gratitude active in the classroom?


The three ingredients a teacher should use to keep gratitude alive and growing in the classroom are:

1. Practice Gratitude Personally

As with any action or change, we need to model the behavior before we ask our students to try it. You can start with a gratitude journal, writing each day: “Thank you for ___ because___.” Apps and websites such as Greater Good Science Center (www.thnx4.org) can send gentle reminders and prompts to help you practice this new gratitude exercise daily.

2. Spread Gratitude to Students

We can introduce the concept of gratitude to our students by starting with a gratitude list or another activity. Embedding gratitude into existing classroom activities makes the process spread more successfully into classroom culture, as well as saving precious instruction time. In social studies class, for example, students might research a historical figure who had a positive impact on the world and write about why they are grateful for that person. In English class, a teacher may have students compose a gratitude letter to someone they are grateful for, either in the school or in their family, and then, if possible, deliver the letter to the recipient.

3. Keep Applying Gratitude

Cultivating gratitude can bring transformative changes, but it often happens incrementally, so be patient and persistent. Encourage students to lead the initiative, changing it, and making it their own. Let their interests, strengths, and passions guide the process. Change gratitude routines to avoid “gratitude fatigue.” Keep activities fun and novel, allowing students and colleagues to create their own gratitude activities, and incorporating gratitude into art, music, science, or technology projects. One creative high school class used henna tattoos to display character traits they were grateful for in each other. When an educator and their class embrace gratitude, it can be a powerful tool to improve and energize school culture.


o What about teenagers?


Teenagers may pose a special challenge to the implementation of gratitude in our classrooms and families. Adolescent brains are still developing, and the last area to fully develop is the pre-frontal cortex, where executive decisions are made.

Gratitude activities can be successful with teens, but we need to be patient and flexible. Giving teens choices and independence helps. Even if we are not successful initially, don’t give up. Some teens will respond after a little time. Include them in researching new gratitude activities and let them lead us in new directions. Remember that teens may not express gratitude the way younger children do, but they still feel it and need it.


· In one of the chapters of your book you show some of the myths related to gratitude, such as that it leads to complacency or that it is only a positive thought, what is true in those myths?


Misconceptions and myths about gratitude prevent some people from trying gratitude. In the book, I present compelling research that shows in detail how those

myths are not true, but are also easy for some people to buy into. By investigating and presenting the latest scientific research, misconceptions may be dispelled. Educators may be resistant to the implementation of gratitude for a number of reasons, but by trying to create school-wide support, the application will be more successful. In addition, students may feel that gratitude is merely an obligation, but by introducing a gratitude curriculum a deeper level of practicing gratitude may be achieved. Also, to overcome the myths and resistors, we can show teachers what gratitude in the classroom may look like. Fantastic articles, blogs, and videos are available on-line, showing gratitude being implemented successfully in the classroom with a variety of activities. After these obstacles are overcome, gratitude will help shape classes and an entire school in a new and positive manner.


How can gratitude be applied among students to try to disprove them?


As we use gratitude, we can relate our experience to students to counter any obstacles. Also, an educator can present gratitude and the latest scientific research to help students to overcome any resistance to using gratitude. Not only does the research confirm that gratitude works in the classroom, it also offers activities and tools. Also, readers should feel free to share stories from my book about the benefits gratitude brings to educators, students, and their families. Students are often excited about the idea of spreading gratitude to their families and communities. As I said earlier, gratitude is contagious and soon after I was successfully implementing gratitude in my class, many other teachers in my school started doing the same thing, In fact, one teacher started a “Gratitude Chain” hanging from the ceiling in the hallway. On each link, students had written something they were grateful for. Every day different teachers and students added to the gratitude chain until it went all the way down the hallway. Students were so excited seeing this every time they walked in the hallway that they kept asking if they could add their gratitude to this chain. This kind of enthusiasm powerfully dispels many of the myths and misconceptions students and teachers may hold about gratitude.


· In his book you show that gratitude is not compatible with materialism or with believing oneself to be 'entitled to everything'. A question that is very much related to today's materialistic society. In this scenario, how can a child learn to be grateful if he believes he doesn’t need anything?


Embracing and practicing gratitude has been shown to remedy some of the pernicious effects of materialism and entitlement. Gratitude gives us a new way of seeing the world and connecting to other people, instead of negatively tying ourselves to “things” that make us happy. In what regards are materialism and gratitude diametrically opposing forces? Gratitude focuses on the positive aspects of life and the people that make those good things possible. Conversely, materialism focuses on the “things” we think we need that will bring us happiness. Applying gratitude in our classrooms and families is

another powerful step to displace entitlement. Coming from a foundation of gratitude, families can undertake acts of altruism and compassion to foster gratitude and overtake feelings of entitlement. Moreover, by demonstrating gratitude as a family, we are helping to recalibrate our priorities and to eliminate those overpowering feelings of privilege. Finding an organization to contribute to or to become volunteers as a class or as a family are steps that help gratitude eclipse feelings of privilege. Even volunteering a few hours a month can bring about the desired change. Nevertheless, this change doesn’t always happen quickly. We need to be patient and realize we are trying to supersede some entrenched habits of thinking and acting.


· You also link gratitude to responsible use of technology, what is the common ground between the two?


As we navigate our digital world, simple guidelines and interjecting some gratitude will help keep us centered and grounded. This will also enable us to lead our students and children to a balanced life with regard to technology. Encouraging students’ balanced use of technology and limiting screen time helps students and adults lead a more integrated life. Gratitude may be interjected into our technological lives, helping us stay grounded. We need to realize that gratitude is its own kind of technology. Unplugging from technology periodically may allow us time to reflect and become truly grateful. When we take even a few minutes away from digital distractions to focus on gratitude, we are recalibrating ourselves and becoming grounded again. Furthermore, we can think of the positive ways technology impacts our lives, such as making many aspects of our lives easier and more efficient. Finally, in a positive use of technology, we can use a gratitude app on our smart phone to remind us to be grateful and make it a habit.


Can gratitude redirect students' relationship with technology?


When we take even a few minutes away from digital distractions to focus on gratitude, we are centering ourselves and becoming grounded again. This is even more imperative when life gets hectic and our stress levels rise. One gratitude activity we can do personally and with our students is to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and think of whom we are really grateful for, why they are important to us, as well as the things they do for us. Taking just a minute and delving deeply into gratitude can refresh us and restore some sanity to our frantic day. Some of our screen time may be replaced with a gratitude activity. Could we also integrate a gratitude activity with screen time? Sure, we can have students write a text or email to someone, telling them how grateful they are for them. Also, gratitude lists on smart phones, tablets or computers are wonderful ways to count our blessings. Personally, I still keep a gratitude list I started over 20 years ago on my computer and enjoy going back and reading over the things I have been grateful for at different times in my life.


· Although mindfulness and emotional education are becoming more widespread in schools, they are not considered compulsory subjects. What do you think about this? How can gratitude be introduced so that students recognize their emotions?


Currently, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), including gratitude, is growing strength and traction in education. I now work at university where we train teachers in every area of education, and in every program we include the area of Social Emotional Learning. Our training and curriculum cover Social Emotional Learning and how to implement it personally and in the classroom. I see this trend and I am very encouraged by this. Research shows that Social Emotional Learning empowers academic success, as well as giving effective life skills like emotional awareness and tools to help deal with the entire range of emotions. Also, it is encouraging to see new funding to help this movement spread, but we need more. We can all help by using these ideas to start implementing gratitude in education in whatever role we play and then encourage colleagues to do the same. Feel free to contact me by email at griffitho@hotmail.com if I can help. We can all make a ripple effect that can turn into a tidal wave that can reshape the future of education and the world in a positive way.


· What do the following words suggest to you? (This question can be answered with 2 or 3 synonyms)

Appreciation-recognition, awareness

Positive discipline-cultivation, affirmation

Complaint-criticism, protest, grievance

Family-powerful, love, teachers

Teacher-guide, mentor, advisor

My interview with the Spanish Education magazine, Educacion 3.0 was published this week.

My interview with the Spanish Education magazine, Educacion 3.0 was published this week. Here is the link to the article “La gratitud es una poderosa herramienta en cualquier aula” 

https://www.educaciontrespuntocero.com/noticias/41-revista-educacion-3-0/

I will also post the interview in English in the next blog post.

Also, here is a link to my book that was translated to Spanish:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08L813D6P/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1


Sunday, December 27, 2020

How to Be Happier for 2021

         How to Be Happier

1.       DO NOT FOCUS ON GOALS.
Even though you may intellectually reject the idea that happiness can be achieved or bought, you must be constantly vigilant against that internal voice that whispers, “But I would be a bit happier if only ...” One strategy to try is to reflect on those times when you were convinced that a certain accomplishment or possession would bring greater happiness, yet your life was not significantly different after you reached your goal. How many times have you had this experience? How many more are needed to finally convince you that it does not work that way?


2.       MAKE TIME TO VOLUNTEER.
People who volunteer to help those in need tend to report being happier. Perhaps it is because working with those less fortunate makes you grateful for what you have. Also, volunteering often brings satisfaction and self-esteem, because you feel engaged in worthwhile work and are appreciated by those you serve. Do not compare yourself with others who seem better off than you are, because that usually results in dissatisfaction.


3.       PRACTICE MODERATION.
If you grow too accustomed to pleasurable things, they will no longer bring you happiness. For example, you may enjoy two or three short vacations more than one long one. And you will enjoy your favorite meal more if you reserve it for a special occasion.


4.       STRIVE FOR CONTENTMENT.
Rethink your beliefs about the nature of happiness. Experiences of great pleasure or joy stand out in memory, and it is easy to conclude that being truly happy means being in that state most or all of the time. The very reason you savor and remember such an experience, however, is because it is not the norm. Instead of equating happiness with peak experiences, you would do better to think of happiness as a state of contentment and relative lack of anxiety or regret.


5.       PRACTICE LIVING IN THE MOMENT.
Start small by focusing on your sensory experience while engaged in a routine task. Over time, spend less energy thinking about the past or the future.

--Originally published: Scientific American MIND 18( 1); 36-43 (February/ March 2007).


Monday, December 7, 2020

Updated Blog-Try Gratitude and Impove your Life

Would you like to improve your life? Try gratitude, it is one of the most powerful tools that I know. Gratitude has empowered me to appreciate everyone in my life more, grow in my profession and improve my well-being.

In addition, gratitude as a practice, is a call to action to be a caring individual, cultivates clarity of mind, moves us away from wants and worries, builds our capacity for forgiveness, grows generosity, and helps us respond to difficult situations constructively and with resilience.

Gratitude Journal

To get started with gratitude, you can choose from a number of gratitude activities at the Greater Good Science Center’s website, https://ggia.berkeley.edu/#filters=gratitude. An effective and research-based method is a gratitude journal. You could start your gratitude journal with being thankful for being alive, for having food to eat and clothes to wear. If you can think about someone you're grateful for, that's even more powerful, as gratitude can strengthen and improve our relationships. Here is an example you may use:

Thanks for ___________________________ because__________________________.

The more specific and the deeper we dive into this activity, the more powerful it will be. For example, instead of writing, “Thanks for lunch,” you could write, “Thanks for lunch because the tomatoes and lettuce in my salad  were delicious and for the cool, sweet iced tea on this hot day, as well as time with friends.”

You can also use a gratitude app on your smart phone. Here is a link to 9 possible gratitude apps: https://www.happierhuman.com/gratitude-app/

Exercising the Gratitude Muscle

Gratitude seems to work like a muscle and writing a gratitude list helps develop our gratitude muscles. Professor Philip Watkins of Eastern Washington University says that those who are the least grateful seem to gain the most from making this effort. That’s good news to those us who may find it hard to start a gratitude list.

Visible Change

Recent research by two leaders in the field of gratitude and education, Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Jeffrey Froh, supports the idea that gratitude improves the lives of  adults and students. They have found several benefits for students and adults.

Keeping a gratitude journal enables both students and adults to be more optimistic, experience more social satisfaction, exercise more often, have less envy and depression, have fewer physical complaints, grow in resilience and sleep better.

Keeping a gratitude journal on a daily basis helps students achieve higher grades; higher goals; more satisfaction with relationships, life, and school; less materialism; and more willingness to give back.

Tapping into the Potential of Gratitude

I challenge you to try it yourself and see how it works. My friends who have written a daily gratitude journal for at least two weeks speak positively of the experience. Gratitude has transformed many lives. What we focus on in life grows and our focus on gratitude can stimulate new positive growth. For me, the fruits of the focus on gratitude are happiness and well-being. Finally, check out Gratefulness.org for extra gratitude resources.

Research

·        Jeffrey J. Froh, William J. Sefick, Robert A. Emmons, Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-beingJournal of School Psychology 46 (2008), pp.213-233 (PDF, 410KB).

·        Jeffrey J. Froh, Robert A. Emmons, Noel A. Card, Giacomo Bono, Jennifer A. Wilson, Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in AdolescentsJournal of Happiness Studies, Volume 12, No. 2, 2011 (PDF, 356KB).

·        Robert Emmons, How Gratitude Can Get You Through Hard TimesGreater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, May 13, 2013.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

My eCourse is now free-This is a great way to stay Grateful through COVID19

Gratefulness.org is now offering my five-session eCourse for free for everyone. This is a perfect way to keep energized through this time of COVID19 and interject some gratitude into your life and the lives of those around you!

This eCourse will include practical, research-based activities and a new gratitude curriculum shared by educator and author, Owen Griffith. Owen’s book, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, will offer structure to help guide the course as we create opportunities for educators to explore gratitude as a way to improve class culture; academic and social success for students; and resilience and satisfaction in students and educators alike. These are tense and challenging times with COVID19 affecting us all in new ways daily! The safety of our kids and ourselves is imperative and having tools that uplifts and strengthens what is going right is essential. Gratitude has a role to play in building resilience and reducing stress, especially during these extremely challenges times. So, join our class and take action now to improve your life. Here is the link, eCourse and comments.


Gratitude: A Way of Teaching should be required reading for teachers, administrators, parents, and anyone else who has a stake in our children’s future. You will be challenged, edified, and stirred to take a fresh look at this timeless virtue and see why we owe our children the gift of gratitude.

~ Robert A. Emmons, Editor-in-Chief, The Journal of Positive Psychology; author of Gratitude Works! and Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier

In a time of tests, accountability, and burnout, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching beautifully encourages teachers and students to connect to their own and each other’s humanity by stopping for a moment and asking, “What is wonderful about life?”

Vicki Zakrzewski, PhD, Education Director, Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley

In Gratitude: A Way of Teaching, Owen M. Griffith does a superb job at giving teachers practical strategies for making their students grateful. Following these strategies, and with patience and persistence, we can significantly influence the children in our own personal worlds. And, if we do, that will influence programs, clubs, schools, and other institutions in the community, too….Our society needs this more than ever. 

Jeffrey J. Froh, Associate Professor, Hoffstra University and co-author of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character

In a very practical way, Owen M. Griffith shows us how gratitude can be incorporated into the schools. Filled with inspiring examples and many practical suggestions, Gratitude: A Way of Teaching can be used to improve the gratitude of students in your classroom, and perhaps more importantly, it should help teachers generate a more grateful attitude toward their students.


Philip Watkins, Professor of Psychology, Eastern Washington University

Monday, February 3, 2020

Gratitude Can Rewire Your Brain.


I am so excited, I found a compelling and powerful article about how "Gratitude Can Rewire Your Brain." So, please read it when you get a chance and keep practicing gratitude and reaping the benefits!

https://fee.org/articles/how-gratitude-can-rewire-your-brain-for-happiness-and-success/

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Gratitude Poem by Kurt Vonnegut


I found this poem today and love it. This was one of the last things Kurt Vonnegut wrote and it is powerful. Enjoy and share!
Joe Heller
True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.
I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel

to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!”
— Kurt Vonnegut
The New Yorker, May 16th, 2005


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Powerful videos to help children




Here is a link to some fantastic videos from the Greater Good Science Center on helping kids in a number of important areas, like feeling loved, being honest and feeling compassion:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/video