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The Importance of Gratitude

April 25, 2022
Gratitude Day

Have you ever been at Starbucks and found yourself in the middle of a “pay it forward” chain? Or have your hands been full after class and the person in front of you saved the day by holding the door open? There’s more than just one way to practice gratitude, and sometimes saying thank you means passing kindness along to the next person. 

There are a number of actions we can take to show our appreciation and acknowledge all the things we’re thankful for—and it’s about more than just being nice (although that’s always good, too!). Incorporating gratitude into our daily lives has lifelong benefits for our mood, lasting effects on the brain, and encourages empathy towards others.

Getting Started with Gratitude

Refining your gratitude practice is the first step in developing a more positive outlook on life. This can lead to better brain function, and even improved overall health. 44% of college students report that they’ve struggled with symptoms of depression or anxiety at some point in their lives (Mayo Clinic).  Oftentimes, finding the resources to begin practicing gratitude can be the hardest part. York College’s Counseling Services are a great on-campus starting point for students who want to learn more about themselves and receive assistance in working through challenges related to mental and emotional wellness. Recognizing when you need help is an accomplishment to be proud of. Your next step is connecting with the resources available to you. 

The Office of Spiritual Life, Student Accessibility Services, Health Services, and Student Success are just some of the other resources on the York College campus. Staff members in these areas are happy to help you navigate obstacles or practice wellness-related skills. These offices work closely together to ensure you have the resources you need to succeed. They can also help with your academic performance, providing guidance on relationships, or helping you better understand your own needs and goals.

The Benefits of Gratitude 

Pastor Lisa Hair of the Office of Spiritual Life often reflects on one of her favorite quotes from St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who said "the secret of happiness is to live moment by moment.” It’s not always about the big, flashy moments of success—allowing yourself to feel thankful for the little things can have a huge impact on your well-being. 

Gratitude is a practice that must be integrated into everyday life to make a lasting difference. For some people, that means journaling. Others spend time mindfully sharing their religion or culture. Another option is simply expressing appreciation when good things come your way. No matter how you approach it, gratitude can boost serotonin and dopamine levels, which can serve as mood boosters during the day. Those who practice regularly tend to feel more hopeful, have more energy, and stay healthier.

TL;DR: Gratitude takes practice—and it’s worth the effort.

  • The practice of gratitude has lifelong benefits to our mood and lasting effects on the brain.
  • The benefits of gratitude take time; the more you practice, the more you’ll begin to notice a difference.
  • Getting started can be the hardest part. There are plenty of resources available at York College and throughout the community to get your gratitude journey started.  

Join the York College of Pennsylvania community as we celebrate gratitude and mental wellness during YCP Gratitude Week (April 25 - 29, 2022). Follow @YorkCollegePA on Instagram for more information, gratitude tips, and a guided meditation.