A Dancer’s Guide to Gratitude
As we seek to build community through dance, an attitude of gratitude is key to our success. In this post, we explore why gratitude matters so much and 7 things we are grateful for as dancers.
What is Gratitude and Why is it Helpful?
Gratitude has several definitions including:
- the act of appreciating what one has
- focusing on the things one has tangible or intangible
- an appreciation of what is valuable in one’s life
Practicing gratitude is important for anyone of any age because it helps us appreciate the good things that are happening in our lives and focus on what we actually have instead of the things we don’t have. There are moments when negative things do happen to us. That’s normal… we’re human. Gratitude helps balance the negativity so that we don’t build a habit of focusing only on our hardships, which in turn can cause a negative mindset.
Working on gratitude can contribute to the development of all aspects of social and emotional skills. Gratitude challenges our own thinking patterns and ourselves (self-awareness and self-management). It helps us develop our relationship skills and social awareness by recognizing the good in others and appreciating others. Lastly, gratitude can actually help us develop our responsible decision-making skills because it challenges us to reflect on and evaluate our own actions along the way. In result, optimism is built, healthier relationships are developed, and mental and physical health increases.
How to Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude and building a habit of gratefulness can be done in many ways. First, think about the good that is happening to you and what you do have. It can be anything: small or large, simple or complicated. For example, I am thankful for music, the roof over my head, my bed, my clothes, food, my car, my family, being able to get out of bed, my strength, my health, being alive, or being able to afford those new shoes I’ve always wanted.
This can be applied further by thanking individual people more often when necessary, answering specific gratitude journal prompts, keeping a gratitude jar by writing down something good that happened to you and putting it in the jar, or thinking of one thing to be grateful for before going to bed. Today Dancing with Class will focus on a dancer’s gratitude list.
Our Dancer’s Gratitude List:
- Our dance partners: Dancing by ourselves can be very intimidating sometimes. Dancing with a partner can offer relief, can help us remember dance moves easier, and dancing with others is fun!
- Being exposed to different people and cultures: We learn many dances from different parts of the world. It’s like we transport ourselves to a different place. Sometimes we even get to wear costumes!
- Being more expressive: we learn how to show who we are and how we feel by moving our bodies and using facial expressions in addition to talking. We have even more ways to express ourselves!
- Our dance family/community: we spend so much time with our fellow dancers from working together, to creating something, to relying on each other in general. Doing all of this helps us get to know each other on a deeper level and develop bonds.
- Being flexible (I’m not talking physically): we have to use creativity to solve problems and learn new dance routines.
- Increased body awareness, capability, and confidence: we learn more about our bodies, and we overcome mental/physical challenges by moving our bodies in unfamiliar ways in the supportive environment of a dance class. We learn how to feel good about our bodies.
- Seeing personal improvement: it feels good to be able to perform a dance move that we had previous difficulty in learning.
So, during the month of November – or any time throughout the year – start to practice gratitude with your students. If you need more ideas of how to do this, check out the bonus resources below.
Want to learn more about what Dancing with class has to offer? Check out our programs!
– Contributed by Ciera Shimkus, LPC, Expressive Arts Therapist