Grounded in Gratitude

Gratitude can be defined by many, but what does it mean to the faculty and staff of EvCC?


(Photo from Unsplash by Priscilla Du Preez)

As students, faculty, and staff get ready for the holiday break and end of fall quarter, a significant action practiced and reflected on is “gratitude”. Tis’ the season for a thankful mind and a grateful heart.

As the holidays near, the enlightening mood lifts spirits and raises hope. EvCC employees around campus share their perception of gratitude and what it means to them.

“Gratitude is the act of reflecting and appreciating what we have or are experiencing. It can prompt acts of kindness and appreciation to others,” Nancy Jones, head of EvCC’s photography department says.

Nancy Jones illustrates the importance of gratitude. (Courtesy photo from Nancy Jones )

COVID-19 was tragic. The pandemic was unexpected and had affected every person one way or another. Throughout 2020, it became very difficult for individuals to remain hopeful and look forward in a positive way. The feeling of constant worry and fear consumed many, leaving very little room for reflection on the good. As 2021 has come to an end, the seemingly relentless negativity starts to melt away as the holiday season approaches, allowing a chance for individuals to partake in a grateful heart.

This time last year, editors of The New York Times stated, “It’s tempting to view the coming holiday season as a well-earned respite from a year filled with hardships. But, as others have argued, those hardships are precisely the point.” Due to the trauma of COVID-19 affecting so many areas of our lives, a common question coming up is, what are the ways people of Everett can express their gratitude towards?

“In these strange and dangerous times of the pandemic, many people have felt isolated and disconnected from one another, and the smallest acknowledgement of someone can be an expression of or an occasion for gratitude,” Thom Lee, head of the EvCC’s art department, expresses. “When working in my garden, many neighbors, some of whom I’ve never met before, have stopped to say hi and say how much they like it. I often reciprocate by giving them vegetables and engaging in conversation. A smile or a warm greeting can be a gift. I certainly appreciate a simple gesture like that.”

The expression of thanks is one many have experienced, but sometimes rarely expressed. Simple or small gestures such as complimenting someone or paying for the person in-line behind you at a coffee stand can go a long way and cause a moment of reflection and appreciation.

Cobi Seslar acknowledges what she is grateful for in life. (Courtesy photo from Cobi Seslar)

“I am full of gratitude for the lessons learned in times of struggle. As uncomfortable as they are at the time, valuable lessons are learned,” Cobi Seslar, EvCC English professor, says.

Many of the staff at EvCC feel gratitude should become much more prominent in an everyday routine instead of being practiced solely during the holiday season. Research has shown gratitude facilitates social well-being, enhances emotional well-being, and benefits physical health. There is a positive association between expressions of gratitude and positive emotional states such as happiness, life satisfaction, and flourishing.

“We live in unbelievably challenging times, it is really easy to slip into focusing on what we don’t have or feel we are missing; to focus on comparison and feeling less than. A practice of gratitude can counter those feelings,” Jones says. “Honestly, when I am feeling the worst, that is when I go out and perform an act of kindness and gratitude. It reminds me that what I do have is the power to bring a smile to another, to make someone’s day and for that, I am grateful.”

The effect everyone has on each other is strong and can either be turned in a positive, or negative light. Everyone has the power to make or break someone’s day. Gratitude can go to great lengths, but is often only practiced when the time is right; holiday sentiment becomes the main reason for reflection and therefore causes a disruption in human growth. Giving thanks is great, but it is a joint effort by those all around which make society a place of genuinity.

Photo from Unsplash by Pro Church Media

“I have a lot to be truly grateful for, and it is separate from seasons or holidays. To create an occasion in which gratitude is sanctioned or demanded is to cheapen an important human emotion,” Lee says.

“I realize that some people do need reminders, but if people were to practice gratitude year-round, it wouldn’t be as difficult to remember.”