“Be grateful for what you have” is a saying that may pop into your head during trying times. However, as a teacher bombarded with papers to grade and IEPs to write, or when you go to work feeling ill because the sub plans are too much of a burden, it can be difficult to come up with ways you feel thankful or be appreciative of what you have.
It’s no secret teachers are burned out (four out of every 10 teachers noted that they feel burned out “always” or “very often” at work, according to a June 2022 Gallup poll), but what if there was a scientifically proven way to transform the way you thought about your life and your work?
Dr. Martin Seligman, the founding father of positive psychology, explained, “We think too much about what goes wrong and not enough about what goes right in our lives. Of course, sometimes it makes sense to analyze bad events so that we can learn from them and avoid them in the future. However, people tend to spend more time thinking about what is bad in life than is helpful. Worse, this focus on negative events sets us up for anxiety and depression. One way to keep this from happening is to get better at thinking about and savoring what went well.”
Dr. Seligman describes the negativity bias or the idea that our brains are hardwired to notice the negative aspects of life. Spotting threats was crucial for early humans, but it can be detrimental in today’s world.
That’s why Proof Positive created a resource for the skill called What Went Well so teachers, their students, and people with autism can learn to counteract the negativity bias by developing a consistent gratitude practice. Here are some ways you can begin to learn and practice What Went Well:
- Ask yourself, What went well today? Why? What was good about it? How could you repeat the experience? Who might you share it with?
- Write down at least three good things from your day in a gratitude journal
- Take seven minutes to complete a Gratitude Brainstorm so you can see the different areas in your life where you can infuse a gratitude practice.
- Have people “sign in with gratitude” by writing down one good thing on a sticky note or a gratitude slip and dropping it in the gratitude jar.
Practicing gratitude alone won’t fix the teacher burnout crisis, but it can boost the wellbeing of the hardworking educators pulling into the school parking lot every morning. Be sure to visit the Skills & Resources tab for more happiness skills and to download free autism teaching resources.