Following on the heels of the Fall 2020 Wellness Challenge and the Wintertime Wellness Project, the Faculty of Education Wellness Committee launches the Wellness + Gratitude Series.

“There’s a scientific link between wellness and gratitude,” says Dr. Robin Bright, Assistant Dean of Field Experiences. “The more you feel gratitude in your life, the higher you score on wellness checklists.”

For Dr. Robin Bright, gratitude is more than an appreciation for what surrounds us. It is also self-appreciation. “We’re all challenged,” she says, “but if we dwell on those negatives, we can’t be really well. Knowing our limitations, but also forgiving ourselves and knowing we’ll find another way forward is important for self-acceptance.”

In Bright’s experience, one of the best ways to develop gratitude is volunteerism. “Stepping out of ourselves to work with others, knowing we’re able to help someone else and make a difference, cultivates feelings of gratitude,” she says, recalling the year her entire family volunteered for a children’s charity in Florida and realized only afterwards how the experience had increased their overall gratitude and well-being.

Reading is another activity that inspires gratitude. “I’m so grateful I can read, and have access to books at a time when most of us are really questioning what there is to be grateful about,” says Bright.

Reading gives me an escape. I can visit other cities and countries without actually being there, and see how other people handle challenges.”

She adds that reading about the lives of others often helps us better appreciate our own.

“Gratitude is something we can all work towards,” says Bright, noting that teachers help young students develop a more positive mindset by changing their language, a topic she touches on in her forthcoming book, Sometimes Reading is Hard. “Older people can learn to change their language too. The language we use, either internally or out loud, is a key part of helping to develop a sense of gratitude.”

Links:
Dr. Bright's forthcoming book, Sometimes Reading is Hard focuses on using decoding, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies to inspire fluent, passionate, lifelong readers. More information can be found here.

Twitter: @drrobinbright

Writer: Elizabeth McLachlan
Photographer: Rob Olsen

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Related story links to the Faculty of Education Wellness + Gratitude  series:
The Faculty of Education WELLNESS INITIATIVE: Supporting a Focus on Health and Well-Being
Wellness and Gratitude: "It’s honestly been a rollercoaster," Brae Clowes (BA/BEd ‘21)

Faculty of Education Wellness Initiative series:
Wellness is Keeping Active, Both Mentally and Physically, Brae Clowes
Wellness is The Joy of Cooking: Dr. Jeffrey MacCormack
Wellness is Feeling Productive: Sally Leung (BA/BEd '17)
Wellness is About Writing: Teri Hartman (BA/BEd '02, current MEd student)
Wellness is Spending Time Outdoors: Dana Visser
Wellness is Stillness: Jane O'Dea (dean emerita)
Wellness is Coping with Stress Through Art and Music: Jenn Pellerin
Wellness During the COVID-19 Experience, PSII, and Staying Connected: Kelsey Shoults
Wellness is Being in the Moment: Kenneth Oppel
Wellness is About Having a Consistent Routine: Alex Funk (BEd '17)
Wellness is Spiritual: David Slomp
• Wellness is Ranching: Danny Balderson
Coping with COVID-19: Harnessing our Natural Stress Response
Coping with COVID-19: Loneliness
The Intersectionality of Faith, Mental Health and Wellness for Racialized Populations During the Pandemic

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For more information please contact:
Darcy Tamayose
Communications, Dean's Office
Faculty of Education
University of Lethbridge
darcy.tamayose@uleth.ca
Learn more about the Faculty of Education: Legacy Magazine (2008-2019)
Twitter: @ULethbridgeEdu Website: uleth.ca/education
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