Westmont Magazine Students Urged to Practice Gratitude
Westmont seeks to address rising anxiety by teaching students how to bounce back from discouragement and struggles so they can thrive during and after college. “Say Yes to Grit” acknowledges that as students adjust to college, they’ll encounter delights, challenges and perhaps a disappointment or two. Research and experience demonstrate that particular mindsets and practices can help students develop resilience in college.
“Students come to Westmont to grow as well as to succeed,” says Edee Schulze, vice president for student life. “With a growth mindset, students learn the value of statements such as ‘I don’t know,’ ‘I messed up,’ and ‘I need help.’”
Andrea Gurney, Westmont professor of psychology, sees increased anxiety and stress in students. “They have more options to choose from, which leads to questions such as ‘I’m not sure what to do,’ or ‘What should I major in?’ that generate more anxiety,” she says. “Many research studies now focus on gratitude, and we do better in all areas of life—spiritually, cognitively,
socially, emotionally and physically—when we intentionally practice gratitude.”
Angela D’Amour, dean of student engagement, says it’s normal for students to feel overwhelmed or to experience anxiety and sadness. “Practicing gratitude is the daily habit of noticing and naming good things in our lives” she says. “The spirt of gratitude transforms your feelings and the way you think, helps bring you peace, and restores your sense of resilience in difficult times.”
Gurney sees gratitude as intertwined with our faith. “More than a hundred times, the Scriptures tell us to be grateful, to give thanks in all circumstances and to rejoice always. “It seems that empirical science has finally caught up with the words of Jesus.”
Students can also become more resilient and happier when they get involved in activities on campus that reflect their passions, interests and identity. “Investing mental and psychological energy inside and outside of the classroom will help our students form stronger relationships that sustain them in difficult seasons,” Schulze says.