Gratitude can change your attitude.

Author name
Casey Tissue, '16

Gratitude can change your attitude.  Being thankful helps us to feel happy, according to Deborah Norville, a broadcast journalist, author, news anchor, and parent of two Duke students. Over family weekend, she gave a lecture on her experiences balancing work and life, and shared stories of how gratitude towards others has had a positive impact on herself and others.

So why is it so hard for us to be thankful if it makes us feel good? Don’t we want to have that warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing we told someone how much we appreciate them?

I enjoyed her discussion of gratitude over this particular weekend, specifically because it tied together thankfulness and family. There’s no doubt about it: everyone here was helped by someone to make it into Duke. We can’t do everything by ourselves! Whether it was a teacher, a friend, a sibling, a role model, a parent, or all of the above, we all owe someone a big thank-you. And I think for many Duke students, our parents and families deserve the most appreciation.

Our families raised us, guided us, and loved us even in our worst moments. Not only did they support us throughout our childhood and teenage years, but they continue to support and encourage us as we become young adults. Parents’ weekend is an opportunity for students to share Duke with their families, and to celebrate what they’ve accomplished as well as look forward to the future.

Duke prides itself on its diversity, so it makes sense that each Duke student has a unique relationship with the people at home. Personally, I text my mom every day, and call about once a week. Other students may call once a day or once a month. Some students are paying for college independently, while others receive help from family. Whatever the case, our families have spent the past two decades dedicating time and energy to us, and these four years at Duke are an important time to give thanks to them. As college students, we are beginning to “leave the nest” now, and the efforts of our families shine in our accomplishments. Sometimes it’s a struggle to realize how dependent we are on others’ help, but it’s important to remind ourselves that we didn’t succeed alone. I asked why it was often hard to show our thanks, and this is a possible answer. We want to be independent, to be adults, and to feel grown-up. But, maybe, being grown-up is actually realizing that we can’t ever be fully self-reliant. Maybe being grown-up means being able to get that happy feeling when we share the ownership of our success with the people who helped us achieve it. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and telling someone thank-you in a sincere way can often be intimidating and emotional. It puts us in a vulnerable place, and forces us to accept our dependence on others. But, if you’re looking for inspiration in telling someone thank-you, this video will show you just how great the effects of simple gratitude can be: