What Are You Grateful For?

By Justine Kelly-Fierro, Assistant Director

Class time, studying, completing assignments, on/off campus employment, internships, club meetings, socializing – it is understandable that sometimes you may feel overwhelmed about rarely having a minute just for yourself.  Living, learning, and working in New York City often means that we are on constant alert, hustling from one place to another while making sure we fit into crowded elevators on our way to class, avoiding getting hit by cabs, and finding time to eat, stay hydrated, and get simple exercise.  These experiences can stress us out physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

How do you handle daily ups and downs?  As one day turns into the next, it can be challenging at times to remember the early excitement of being accepted into your dream school, fresh faced with a clean slate, embarking on your own independent journey of learning and self-discovery.  Do you find yourself throwing shade or complaining about every little annoyance?

One way to stay grounded, present, and self-reflective is to write a Gratitude Journal. This is a simple exercise that you can easily integrate into your regular routine.  Once a week or more, find a place to jot down a few things you’ve experienced that you’ve appreciated, that fill you up with joy, comfort, and validation.

These lists can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You can write them in an actual paper journal, in a notepad or app on your smartphone. You could even tweet them, post on Facebook, or take a photo on Instagram. After a few weeks, you’ll have amassed a collection of tender touchstones that you can refer to in times of uncertainty or frustration.

Not certain what to write about? Gratitude researchers say to go for depth instead of breadth and to focus on people and experiences instead of objects or things.  In one study, the instructions indicate:

Be aware of your feelings and how you “relish” and “savor” this gift in your imagination. Take the time to be especially aware of the depth of your gratitude.

Recalling these positive jewels is a technique that will help you stay present, alleviating anger and worry as you reflect on and appreciate the awesome life that you are living and creating each moment within your community.


  • How snuggly my cats are because it’s so cold out.
  • My colleague who is always ready with a compliment on a project we’re working on.