Why Bother To Learn To Work Together?

Why Bother Learning How To Work Together?

One of the reasons I like teaching fourth grade is because I get to teach Idaho history. Every year I find something new to aid my teaching of this subject and this year was no different. At the bottom of my filing cabinet, I pulled out a curriculum I’d inherited from the previous fourth grade teacher that I’d never used before. I blew off he dust and opened its pages. It was a simulation based on Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s Corps of Discovery. After familiarizing myself with the material, I launched my students into the make believe world of this historical adventure. I gave them directions, assigned roles and watched, over the next several weeks, how they either made headway or failed to make headway along the route to the Pacific Ocean, depending on how well they worked together. 

Working as a Unit

In life, we are not always required to unite ourselves with others, just some of the time. And it does take a special kind of energy and patience to work within a group who may be very much unlike ourselves. As my students discovered in the Lewis and Clark simulation they had to learn how to solve problems and make decisions that involved more than just themselves. They had to learn to rely on someone else, and be accountable and do their job.  Listening to differing opinions was especially challenging for them. Exchanging ideas and giving in to the “better” one bruised a few egos.  

For some, working with others may just be too daunting of a task. Easier if I just do it myself. Or is it? As a reformed, “I’ll just do it myself” thinker, I learned the value of working with others.  

Part of my teacher’s training involved group projects. Even as an adult I had my preferences with whom I wanted to partner with—someone just like me please. But our preferences were not considered and instead, our instructor grouped us randomly. At first I did not appreciate this haphazard way. But later, as I got over wanting things my way,  it dawned on me how she was grooming us for real life in our teaching careers. Working with everyone showed me how everyone’s else’s strengths and talents could work in union with mine. Now I’m  teaching the same life lesson to my fourth grade students. 

Why bother how to learn to work together? In real life, there are times when our lives and our welfare actually depend on working together with others if we want to progress. 

Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Why Bother Thinking About Gratitude?

Is gratitude an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition? We feel grateful when someone is kind toward us, but we won’t notice someone’s kindness unless we have the ability to pay attention to other people. Some may say they were born with a good nature and gratitude comes natural for them. Others may share how practicing gratitude has become a habit and now they have an attitude of gratitude. However it shows up in our lives, gratefulness makes us a better person.

The Domino Effect of Gratitude

 Gratitude is immeasurable and at the same time renewable. Unlike a well that runs dry, our source for gratitude does not. Gratefulness begins by thinking about gratitude. What are we grateful for? Who are we thankful for? We can begin our mental list first thing in the morning and continue it throughout the day only to begin a new list the next day. Counting our blessings makes us aware of the blessings that we can count. They are innumerable since new blessings accompany each new day.  

 Gratitude is attractive. It nurtures and deepens old friendships and helps us start new ones. When I consider the choice to spend time with someone who counts their blessings as opposed to spending time with someone who counts their burdens, I will choose the one who counts their blessings. Those who are more mindful of their troubles than they are of the goodness in life are inconsolable souls. Worries, inconveniences, and burdens are just as numerous as the good gifts we are given each day. But ruminating on our troubles only brings out the worst in us—agitation, a sour countenance, and bitterness. Though gratefulness can be contagious, there are those who have built up their immunity to it. 

It has been said that gratitude is a moral barometer. When we notice we’ve benefited from another’s moral actions, and validate their deed with a word of gratitude, that moral character is more likely to continue. A grateful person who reinforces honesty, decency and ethical practices in others will likely help morality to grow in their community and their workplace.  

Finally, gratefulness reminds us to never take anything for granted. Although I have a job and my health today, I am not guaranteed my job or my health tomorrow. Being grateful for what I have today makes me appreciative and mindful for the goodness found in this particular day.  

Why bother thinking about gratitude? It doesn’t matter if we think about gratitude as an emotion, a skill, a virtue, an attitude or a disposition as long as we think about it.