Recently, I read The Resilience Project: Finding happiness through gratitude empathy & mindfulness. The author – Hugh Van Cuylenberg – has observed that gratitude, empathy and mindfulness impact significantly on mental health and wellbeing. Research backs up these claims.

Change affects our mental health and wellbeing. Subject to the change, and our thoughts, feelings and behaviours, change can be significantly positive or a little more on the challenging side of things. With the end of the school year upon us, change is inevitable; some of you are graduating, others preparing for a break before returning to school for a new year focused and ready to achieve your goals. As your school year ends, I encourage you to take five minutes each day and practice gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.

Practice gratitude!  Take a moment to think about one of the following areas of your life; family, friends, physical and mental health, finance, home, culture, skills and education. Consider what is going well. What are you looking forward to? What are you grateful for? Now if your mind has taken you on a tangent of ‘this isn’t…’ or ‘I wish…’ or even ‘if only…’ pause for a moment and simply focus on one thing that has gone well for you today. Practice doing this at least once a day, intentionally shifting your thinking to what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have (Van Cuylenberg, 2019). Take time; intentionally focus on what went well.

Empathise. Empathy is thinking about others, imagining what it is like for them and seeking to understand. During a day there a many opportunities to consider others and act kindly toward someone. What will you do today to demonstrate empathy toward others?

The final in our trio, following gratitude and empathy, is mindfulness. A term you have no doubt heard many times before. The act of taking time to focus on the present, rather than focusing on concerns about the past or fast forwarding into worry about your future. Pause wherever you are, notice what you can see, hear, feel, smell. Insert mindful moments throughout your day.

With whatever change you are facing as we head toward the end of 2021 and look forward to 2022, I really do hope you consider practicing, gratitude, empathy and mindfulness.

Susan Hollingsworth, Senior School Counsellor 



Van Cuylenberg, H. (2019). The resilience project:finding happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. Sydney,Australia: Ebury Press.