13 November 2017

Giving Time

When we give our time to help another person, even in the smallest of ways, we send a very powerful message: we are saying that we value that person so much that we are willing to give them something very precious. Time is the most valuable commodity any of us has - it is a truly levelling thing. We cannot create more time in any one day - there are only 24 hours; each of us has exactly the same number of minutes - 1440 of them, and when these are gone, we never get them back. When we choose to use some of them in recognising or serving another person, we are putting their needs above our own.

In that moment, we are saying that they are at least as important as we are. It is a mark of respect, compassion, gratitude or all of these.

Studies* show that there is an important link between being grateful - taking time to say thank you - and feeling connected. When we say thank you to someone, we are recognising that they have done something to improve our lives, and this strengthens the connection we feel to them.

Being grateful is also a humbling experience. When we realise that people have done things for us, have made sacrifices, we appreciate that they must have done so because they see some worth in us. We may feel a sense of indebtedness for the faith they have shown in us. Whilst this may seem like a burden, it can also be a good thing.

These feelings can lead us to strive to do better. Through the actions of others, we too feel elevated by a greater sense of our own worth, which in turn can drive us to work harder and be more generous with our time.

Giving thanks is a simple way of giving time. As the end of the academic year approaches for students in the Senior School, now is an appropriate moment for them to pause and give thanks for the people in their lives who support them and believe in them, at school, in the wider community and at home. I would hope that all students might consider saying thank you to those people in their lives who have made a difference. Doing so by writing a card or note or letter is even more powerful.

I have written to the Year 12s, asking them to write thank-you notes to the person or people they feel have been particularly influential in their lives at Scotch - these may be teachers, or coaches, or parents, or other significant people who made a difference at one point or another in their lives. Taking time to write such notes by hand increases the power of this gesture; in doing so, not only are our young men giving time to think about what that person has done for them, but they are creating something unique.

Later in the year, we will be encouraging students in Year 5 and Year 8 in particular to write thank you notes as they complete their time in Junior and Middle Schools.

*For more on the benefits of gratitude, please visit the Greater Good Science Center.

Mr James Hindle
Director or Student and Staff Wellbeing