Thankful Thursdays: What I Learnt From Having My Entire School in Hong Kong Take Part in a Thankful Initiative

WRITTEN BY WEILYN CHONG

Thankful
ˈθaŋkfʊl,ˈθaŋkf(ə)l/
Adjective: expressing gratitude and relief, usually related to thanksgiving.

This is the dictionary’s definition of thankfulness.

When most people think of being thankful, they automatically associate it with the holiday, Thanksgiving. Even the dictionaries definition of thankfulness correlates back to just one single time of the year. The one time in the year where we appreciate everything around us – from our school, relationships, the nature around us and more. For most of us, out of the 365 of the year, we are thankful just once. Out of 365 days, only one is dedicated to telling everyone around us how thankful we are for our privileged life. Only one day goes towards our environment, our loved ones, and ourselves.

This was the exact motive for the thankful initiative I started at my school in Hong Kong. The thought that thankfulness shouldn’t simply be associated with one day, but should be a part of our everyday lives. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to simply say thank you to someone, and sometimes that’s all you need to hear.

After reading more about the NGO, The Hidden Good, I wanted to implement small acts of thankfulness within my school in Hong Kong. I approached my principal, and with his help, I was able to develop a program that was run in our Middle School. The program was quite simple. Every week on Thursday, every homeroom would do a small activity that had to do with thankfulness.

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At first, it was hard to implement. The project was brand new, and the teachers didn’t remember. I took all of this to heart and assumed nobody wanted to take part in being thankful. Disheartened, I was going to quit and drop the project as a whole. But I realised that thankfulness was something I wanted to spread within our community, and so I kept pushing throughout. I realised thankfulness was going to have to be something that I needed to implement with resilience. I went to each and every homeroom and tried to spark spirits about the project.

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After many hours, days and months going into homerooms, I was more and more disappointed. I was looking for big change, big improvements, and suddenly everyone to change into people who were thankful. I learned that I had to change my mindset. Thankfulness wasn’t something I could implement overnight, and the changes I was looking for were too big and too drastic, but instead something that was built over time and with small changes that added up. It was this change of mindset did I start seeing the good the project was doing. I think the most important thing that I have learnt from starting up Thankful Thursdays is that thankfulness can be found everywhere and anywhere.

Being thankful is so important to our well-being, and for us as human beings. It has many physical and mental benefits, and being thankful has been scientifically proven to make you a healthier and happier person. Yet we often don’t take the effort to even say thank you. Even if it’s not scientifically proven, don’t you feel good, appreciated when you hear someone say thank you? Or when you thank someone around you?

weilyn thankful thursday

I was reading a news article the other day, about a young child in Singapore who had a terminal illness of brain cancer. I clicked on the article expecting life-changing news for this boy who had a large dream to do something big. But as soon as I started to read it, I realised that this boy really wanted to pet dogs. He was an animal lover, and something as small as petting and hugging a dog was the wish he submitted to the Make a Wish Foundation. On his birthday, hundreds of people gathered and celebrated with him, bringing their dogs so that his wish could be fulfilled. These acts seem so small to us, but could really mean a lot to other people. These small acts of kindness, are sometimes the biggest ones we need to thank.

Thankful
ˈθaŋkfʊl,ˈθaŋkf(ə)l/
Adjective: expressing gratitude and relief.

This is the dictionary’s definition of thankfulness. But through spreading thankfulness throughout school, thankfulness became less of an occasional feeling, but an atmosphere instead.

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