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What is Gratitude?
In the song Toast by Koffee, the lyrics “Gratitude is a must” seem so mundane yet are so impactful because indeed, gratitude is a must. November and December are always that time of the year when a myriad of emotions are naturally present. Amidst academic, work, personal, and family challenges, you have made it till now. That could be a sign of determination, perseverance, and resilience. And given all those emotions, whether affiliated with positivity or negativity – there is always something to be grateful for.
Gratitude means more than simply saying thank you. Researchers usually define it as a feeling or state that results from both (1) recognizing a good thing, such as a positive outcome or gift we’ve received, and (2) recognizing that this good thing came from outside ourselves.
Bouncing back from failure
Like many of you, this is the time of year when I take time for reflection and gratitude. Reflection and gratitude form an innate core of my being because they help me build better connections with the people in my personal and work/academic life and improve my relationships. Each year, I reflect on my experiences and think about how I could have done better. But what happens when I did not achieve my new year’s resolutions, failed an exam, did not complete my work KPIs, did not save money, or lose weight? What now? Perhaps you walked into that exam room feeling very confident but the results prove otherwise.
I recently watched a YouTube video by one of SA’s best content creators, the Financial Bunny: Nicollete Mashile. And when I was watching, she said one sentence that completely changed my outlook. “Make your financial mistakes early – you have time to recover”, whilst this statement was aimed at financial advice, it can be relevant to most aspects of our lives. You are young. You will recover. Whichever mistake you made, which ultimately lead to your failure or not achieving your goals, just remember that there’s always time to dust it off and redeem yourself.
If you’re currently trying to navigate failure which you will inevitably go through at some stage, two things are always important to remember:
- Failure is not the end of the world – everyone goes through it at some stage.
- Failure is only redirection and we should always learn from it.
Overcoming failure and learning from the process requires certain stages:
- Take a step back
Failure seems earth-shattering when it happens which means your emotions are all over the place when it happens
- Identify the cause of the failure
Were you taking too many classes? Did you fail to implement good study techniques? Was there something in your personal life distracting you from your studies?
- Develop a plan
Think about how you can retry more smartly. For instance, get an accountability partner, download commitment apps, and study in the library instead of your room.
- Get help if necessary
Get a tutor if necessary or simply raise your hand in class if necessary.
If you feel like a failure in other ways, let’s say for instance you did not achieve some of your new year’s resolutions, the points above are still relevant. Remember, to not be too hard on yourself. There is always next year. And amid the “failures”, force yourself to find something to be grateful for – even if it is as simple as the gift of life.
And for those who have had good marks and are generally happy with the outcomes of the year, please keep up the impressive work. I hope you can find a way to celebrate yourself and acknowledge all your hard work.
I also encourage you to take time to recharge over the summer and get back stronger for 2023! As we wrap up this year, I hope you will take a moment to reflect and learn from your failures, revel in all your successes, and always remain grateful. And remember, gratitude is not gratitude unless it is expressed.