Gratitude/On Course

In my psychology classes, especially in Abnormal Psychology, the content can get a little depressing at times (talking about stress and depression can be stressful and depressing!).  In an effort to be positive and to call attention to what we have, rather than to discuss what is wrong and what we don’t have, I start the class period by asking one student what he or she is grateful for.

At the beginning of the semester I give students a notecard and have them write their name on it and have them write something they are concerned about on the back of the notecard.  They also record their concern in their notebook (more about that in a minute).  I collect the notecards and at the beginning of each class period, I pick a card and the chosen student tells us what we’re doing that day (this helps keep them involved and needing to know what the plan is for the day), and tells us something he or she is grateful for.  Hopefully, this sets a positive tone and gets all of us thinking about what we’re grateful for.  It also helps us get to know one another.

After students fill out the notecard and record their concern in their notebook, I hand out the “Choices of Successful Students” worksheet.  I have them identify a behavior they can use to help them with the concern they have identified.  We revisit this periodically during the semester.

One thought on “Gratitude/On Course

  1. It is a great idea to set the tone at the beginning of class hoping that it can override any negative feelings we might have. I am including information on the Domino Thought Theory which emphasizes the same idea and I trust you can use in your class as well.

    Change your mind and change your life

    In his book, Phoenix Flight Manual – Rising Above the Ashes of Ordinary Existence by Anthony Dallmann-Jones, Ph.D., he proposes the Primary Domino Thought Theory. All of our behaviors – words, emotions, and deeds are the result of a string of thoughts preceding them. The first thought in a particular string of thoughts is called the Primary Domino Thought. It is the most powerful thought in the string because it starts all the other thoughts that eventually lead to your behavior. The Primary Domino Thoughts that follow can be used to change your thinking, and therefore, your behavior. Practice them daily and gradually weave them into your thinking pattern. They will become part of you. Eventually, they will be you. We are reminded that the way I think determines the way I feel, and the way I feel determines the way I act. I have taken the liberty to add appropriate quotations for each of the Primary Domino Thinking guidelines:

    1. I pay attention to my body and its needs, and I choose to be well and happy. “Doctors don’t know everything really. They understand matter, not spirit. And you and I live in the spirit.” – William Saroyan.
    2. I focus my attention on one moment, idea, or feeling at a time. “How can I be here if I am always there?” – Rabindranath Tagore
    3. I do the best I can about a situation, and then I let it go. The outcome is not always up to me. I do not always have control of life, but I have control as to how I will respond. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr
    4. I express my emotions honestly to others. I feel…..when….because. “It is not the snake bite that kills us, rather it is the venom of the negative feelings of anger, resentment, and hostility that pulses in our veins.” – Anonymous.
    5. I know that even from “negative” experiences, I am gaining lessons of growth and strength. “Manure is stinky, but necessary for growth.” – Roger J. Vanden Busch
    6. I treat all other living organisms with the respect and reverence that I wish for myself. “The center of human nature is rooted in ten thousand ordinary acts of kindness that define our days.” – Stephen Jay Gould.
    7. If I am dissatisfied with a relationship, I will take steps to improve it. If I become co-dependent, I will leave it. “Instead of heavy duty, try putting yourself on the gentle cycle” – Anonymous.
    8. There is no stress outside me; there is only my subjective perspective/response to a situation, which I can learn to control. “Nothing is so horrible but that thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare.
    9. I am not closed in; I have options and the triple A’s = accept, alter, or avoid. “Rule No. 1 is, Don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule No. 2 is, It’s all small stuff. And, if you can’t fight and you can’t flee, then flow.” – R.S. Eliot.
    10. I do not judge, but prefer to look for the good in all reality. “The emotional environment we create within our bodies can activate mechanisms of destruction or repair.” – Bernie Siegel.
    11. My shortcomings are part of me, they are merely challenges to be overcome or traits to be accepted – it is my choice. “The SOOS Theory = stepping stone or opportunity OR obstacle or stumbling block.” – Roger J. Vanden Busch
    12. My feelings and behavior are learned and, if ineffective, can be unlearned or replaced. “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Picasso

    13. Nothing is so bad that I can’t make it worse by entertaining “horrible” thoughts. “The mind is its own place and in itself can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell.” – John Milton
    14. Others accept me as I present myself, which I can choose to do in the best possible light. “Be a person of integrity, balancing your inner and outer selves into a harmonious balance of authenticity and transparency.” Roger J. Vanden Busch
    15. I live in the NOW. “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, and today is a gift.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    In conclusion, to a certain degree, everyone has the ability to consciously control his or her actions. You can deliberately set your mind on a particular approach to life. You do not have to entertain every thought that enters the threshold of your mind. Every day we make many conscious and unconscious choices. By becoming aware of your thoughts, you can insure yourself that you will make choices that will serve to relax you, reduce your stress, and improve your health, happiness, and enjoyment.

    May we be struck by the sights, sounds, and smells of summer; May we find pockets of tranquility, slices of beauty, and running streams of relaxation, renewal, and reflection. Let us rid ourselves of ANTS=automatic negative thinking.

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