A Message From the Chief Gratitude Officer.

While working as a primary school physical education teacher in my early 30s I stumbled across a couple of books by thought leaders and scientists who were studying positive psychology and its impact on happiness, health and lifestyle.

The more I read the more my interest in this area grew, not just because it tied into my own goals of improving the wellbeing and health of young children, but because the ideas resonated with my own journey and personal challenges at the time.

Over the next few years I continued to read and research as much as I could. I attended conferences on the topic, read books by popular authors and psychologists such as Martin Seligman, Barbara Frederickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Shawn Achor among others, and adopted the best of their advice into my own daily life.

And after awhile I realised that all the research and studies were really saying the same thing: that contrary to our society’s long-held belief that ‘success’ is the doorway to happiness, gratitude and acceptance are the real indicators of future health, happiness and success in life.

It sounds really basic, but developing an understanding of this principle changed my life in powerful and profound ways and I began experiencing myself the positive physical and mental impact that this simple philosophy has.

Then one day while running on the treadmill I had a light-bulb moment – if learning these simple skills and techniques could have such a positive effect on my life at 34, what if I had been taught them when I was much younger? Like in primary school? What would my life have been like if I had these skills right from the start? And what would my students’ lives be like if I shared these insights with them?

There seemed no reason to me that the simple techniques used by adults to retrain their brains and change their beliefs couldn’t be taught to children, giving them an advantage and therefore setting them up for a lifetime of optimism, kindness and success.

And so Growing with Gratitude was born!

By utilising my experience from being a primary school teacher for 10 years I wanted to create a fun, innovative program for teachers to implement in the classroom and for families to do together at home.

Through the Growing with Gratitude Program I hope to empower children, teachers, parents and families quickly and simply with the skills that took me years to learn. And by nurturing these skills in young children I’m really hoping we can create a new generation of grateful, happy, kind, mindful and optimistic people who will stamp their presence on the world and go on to make even greater positive change themselves.

I’m also hoping that the program will contribute to reducing teenage and early adulthood depression, which is a growing issue here and all around the world with tragic consequences. Almost a quarter of young Australians aged 16-24 say they are unhappy with their lives and in the United States about 20% of teenagers will experience depression before they reach adulthood.

The program aims to plant the seed of happiness early during the primary years … cultivate the skills during primary school … then harvest the benefits through high school and adulthood. And if we can do this then the end result will be a world full of grateful, happy and successful people!

Thank you for being part of the Gratitude Revolution. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Ashley Manuel