Cultivating Gratitude: Tips from National University’s Mind, Body, Wellness Student Organization

We asked members of National University’s Mind & Body Wellness Student Organization how they cultivate gratitude.

Meet the panelists from the Mind & Body Wellness Student Organization: Maria, Jacqueline (President), Cristyn, and Rae Lynn.

What are you grateful for?

Maria: In addition to being grateful for my health and that of my family, I am grateful to both National University and the NU Scholars Program. National University has helped me to believe in myself and my ability. I am prepared to make a positive impact in my community, and that makes me feel a great sense of fulfillment and gratitude.

I will always feel grateful for the opportunity to be a student leader. This experience has increased my self-confidence so much. I see myself as more capable and confident and I know this will benefit me greatly in my career.

Maria and her daughter Bella enjoy a gorgeous pre-COVID day in Hawai’i

Rae Lynn: This year has been a year of unexpected challenge and difficulty for most people. While it’s easy to be grateful when things are going your way and when life is going according to plan, gratitude is that much more meaningful when you have to seek it out in the midst of less-than-ideal circumstances. When I focus on the negative things around me, I can often get stuck in negative emotions and forget all of the things that there still are to be thankful for. And, even in 2020, there is plenty to be grateful for!

I am thankful for my health, and the health of my family members, in a year where health is not to be taken for granted. Although I often find myself complaining about being “stuck” inside with my kids, I am thankful for the extra time I have gotten this year with my family. This time with them is a gift, and how fortunate we are as a family to be able to work from home and help support our children as they learn from home.

I am also grateful to National University for an education that will help me become the best teacher I can be. I am thankful for the opportunities for scholarship, service, and leadership development, and for this community of likeminded individuals seeking to learn and make an impact on the world.

As a student leader, I am grateful for the opportunity to give back: Leadership isn’t about being on top of a podium and having people look up at you, but about living a life that inspires and serves others. As a student leader, I have been able to use my leadership training to give back to others who are on their journey of going back to school. It has been incredible to be able to inspire them and help equip them as they take those bold and scary steps of entering college for the first time.

Jacqueline: I am most grateful for my life and my health – the possibilities are endless when you are alive and healthy. I am incredibly blessed and grateful for my family, my wonderful husband, and my children, who understand and support my dreams. I am thankful for the experiences that have taught me to live life with a grateful heart.

I am grateful to NU for believing in me, and for showing that they value me as not only as a student, but as a person. The opportunities for professional development opportunities that have been provided have helped me grow in a way I did not think possible for me, and have allowed me to dream bigger than ever before.

After dropping out of eighth grade, I thought my education journey was over, and as a wife, parent, and older nontraditional student, I certainly never thought that I would have a leadership opportunity. Yet here I am, not only completing a master’s program, but being involved at NU as a student leader! This opportunity has helped me to develop my professional persona and to become more comfortable with public speaking.

Cristyn: Although we still have a long way to go, I am very grateful that I live in a time where equality for all has begun to make huge advancements. This is due to the hard work and bravery of so many that have come before me.

I am grateful to be able to work a full-time job and raise three kids while attending university classes. I could not do this without the online platform and asynchronous classrooms National University offers. On top of that, every professor, advisor, school administrator, and help desk professional has helped me to the best of their abilities.

I truly believe that “it takes a village,” especially in a year like 2020. It was only after we all retreated behind our walls that we realized how much we need each other. As a student leader, I hope to reach as many other students as I can, because I know first-hand that a smile or a word of encouragement can mean the difference between someone continuing on their path to higher education or turning away from it. By reaching out to others, we remind each other that are not alone. We are all in this together and we can all be successful at achieving our goals.

What advice would you give to others about building an attitude of gratitude?

Maria: Be unrelenting when it comes to creating an attitude of gratitude. Feeling and expressing gratitude centers you and helps you reflect on what is truly important in your life. Expressing gratitude humanizes us. My advice is to express your gratitude every chance you get!

Rae Lynn: Recently, after spending too much time on social media, I found myself beginning to compare my life to the “highlight reel” of others. It seemed like everyone else’s life was so much better than mine! I knew I needed a mind-shift. I immediately shut off my phone and grabbed my journal to make a list of all the of things in my life I am grateful for. As I wrote about my family, my marriage, my home, my friendships, and the many amazing opportunities I have been able to experience in life, my negative mood changed into an attitude of gratitude. While my life is not perfect, it is mine and it is beautiful. So, if you find yourself focusing on the “have-nots” or the things that you might be lacking in your life, take some time to reorient yourself and remind yourself of the things you do have that you are grateful for. I promise, it will change your perspective!

Jacqueline: Being grateful helps us feel happier by allowing us to enjoy the simple things we sometimes take for granted. Focus on the good things in life and learn to appreciate them more. Celebrate yourself and your daily accomplishments – If you don’t think they are a big deal, shift your thoughts, and make them a big deal! Share this attitude and set an example for by appreciating and show gratitude to people around you. In short, look at everything with a grateful heart. Everything that happens has something to offer, and even adverse events bring valuable lessons that help us grow.

Cristyn: We have all had both struggles and blessings – the trick is to see the struggles as the building blocks of success. None of us learned to walk before falling down a few times and none of us learned to talk without mispronouncing a few words. Every failure has a lesson and every lesson helps us grow. Once you accept that even failure is a step forward, it’s hard not to be grateful for all of our experiences.

Want to learn more?

Did you know that all active National University students receive free LinkedIn Learning membership through their Single Sign-On? And that many of these courses are eligible for Continuing Education Units in fields from Project Management to Accountancy?

This short video below offers some quick tips on how to build a habit of expressing gratitude in a high-impact, professional way:

Want to learn more about how to cultivate gratitude for professional success? Check out “The Power of Gratitude” on LinkedIn Learning.

Want to learn more about joining a student organization at National University, or completing our Effective Leadership Certificate of Completion? Attend our next monthly NU Engage virtual event. Looking forward to seeing you at our next NU Engage, Tuesday January 12, 2021 at 5:30 pm! Click here to register.