The 30 days of gratitude event through the month of February on the UCC campus highlights the importance of remaining positive through life trials and tribulations. Its focus is to provide students with the motivation to remain physically and mentally healthy through mindfulness practices.

The event, held by the Student Life & Campus Engagement office, is a call for students to practice being grateful and positive through the month of February. Anyone can participate by joining the month-long challenge or by submitting what they are thankful for in a “gratitude jar.” This is a large vase for the UCC community to place written notes into; it can be found at the Information desk in the Laverne Murphy Student Center with pencils and paper readily available for students. The notes will be publicly displayed at the end of finals week.

There are endless benefits to being grateful for what you have, Marjan Coester, the director of Student Life and Campus Engagement, said.

“People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems,” she said.

Coester said she believes gratitude is important for mental and physical health by relieving stress, fear, anxiety, high blood pressure, depression and heart disease. By having a positive outlook on the world, people can be relieved of the burdens taking hold of their life.

According to The National Institute of Health, gratitude leads to multiple physical and mental health benefits. A study they published demonstrated how gratitude corresponds with an increase in gray matter capacity in areas of the brain known as the right inferior temporal gyrus and posteromedial cortices. The study states, “Individuals vary in how grateful they tend to be, and those who are more grateful show enhanced psychological well-being.”

The inspiration behind the event came from Coester’s own battle with health issues for five months in 2016. She recalled being in a dark place at the time with little hope to rise from the ashes

“People that know me well, know that is not really my true nature,” Coester said. “It was a scary place to be.”

Since then she has been part of a Facebook group called The Gratitude Circle which has daily prompts that members from all over the world can reflect upon and use for a boost of positivity. Additionally, the group holds a 40 days of gratitude event which sparked UCC’s version this year.

UCC student, Jennifer Hagerty, said gratitude means living every day with thankfulness and treating others the way they hope to be treated. Additionally, she thinks that when someone is thankful they tend to be more confident which reflects positive emotions onto others and uplifts them.

Hagerty recalled a time when she went through a dark phase in her life and how gratitude pulled her out of the ashes and into the light.

“I have seen my fair share of challenges in my life. Staying focused on the positives and the little victories, being grateful for those moments tends to create a momentum that launches me in the direction of my goals. It’s like that old saying you have two choices in life. You can be either the victim or the victor; you decide,” she said.

Rachael Brock, a freshman at UCC, takes time out of each day to stop and reflect on the things that matter the most to her. Gratitude helps her remain positive and stay energized throughout the day, she said. Therefore, Brock said she is thankful that the school is putting on this event.

“I think this event is an awesome idea. If they can help promote and keep up a positive attitude, it can get everybody more into learning and excited about the classes they are taking, especially through midterms,” Brock said. “At this point in the year we could all use a refreshing boost of positivity and sense that all of our hard work is appreciated.”