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The struggle ends when gratitude begins

This blog post is an ethics speech by Tejon ’20 about one of Landon’s core values, gratitude, to Upper School students and faculty.  Tejon explains why his mother is so impactful in his life and how he shows her gratitude for the sacrifices she has made on his behalf.

 Thank you Mr. (Michael) Wu and the handbells, that was beautiful. Thank you, Tommy (Kenary) for the great introduction, and thank you to Mr. (John) Bellaschi for giving me this humbling opportunity to speak today about a topic that really hits home for me, and hopefully it will for you too after my speech.

If you don't know me my name is Tejon, tank, tej, or as my mom calls me to this day, Peanut. I came to Landon in the ninth grade, and it has been such an amazing experience, I have grown and have learned so much here, but I would say that the biggest thing that I have learned from my time here at Landon has been the core value of gratitude.

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Most of us will say ok, that’s a long definition of just saying thank you. But we often forget about the second half of the meaning that says the readiness to SHOW appreciation and to RETURN kindness. Gratitude is so much more than just saying thank you, it's about showing the person that helped you or the person that gave you that advice that you appreciate them don't just tell them.

Now I know you’re saying, how do I show gratitude? With Thanksgiving approaching us, it is the perfect opportunity to show gratitude to the people that mean the most to you, it's as simple as making a plate for someone, taking up someone's trash, asking to see if your mom or dad needs help cooking. It's those little things that show gratitude and that show those people dear to your heart that you appreciate everything that they do for you.

We even have the opportunity to show our gratitude every day at Landon, when we take our trash up and clean our tables and don't leave a mess for the kitchen staff to clean up after us. That shows them that we are thankful and appreciate the time that they take to providing us with lunch every day. I guarantee that when you show these acts of gratitude, not only will the person that's receiving the act feel special, but also showing gratitude can bring you happiness. According to a Harvard University health study, gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness and can bring more positive emotion.

There's a quote by Neale Donald Walsh that says, “The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” Think about that. By you performing an act of kindness to show your gratitude, you not only bring joy and a positive impact on someone else's life, but you also bring happiness and positive emotion to your own life.

I am a big believer in gratitude and the idea of showing gratitude, for many reasons, but the main reason is my mother. My mom, with some help from my grandparents, raised me by herself. She gave up so much for me. She gave up some of her dreams so that I could pursue mine. There is no way I could ever repay her for something that huge, but the least I can do is show the utmost gratitude, spending time with her instead of going out with friends, sitting down and talking to her and ask about her work even when I don't know some of the things she does, watching my brother so that she can have a day off, even if it's just putting a smile on her face.

I have to do those things more often because it makes her happy, and it brings me comfort and happiness. It's those things even though they may seem small, it shows her that I care and that I appreciate her. There is not a day that goes by that my mom doesn't do something for me. There is no way I could live with myself if I just told her thank you. She does too much and deserves all the kindness and gratitude in the world.

Every day I go about my day with a smile on my face, striving to make my mother proud. It brings me joy and brings positive motivation to my life. I know she's here, and mom, I love you and will always be grateful for you. And I will continue to show it. Finally, my brother Blake, although he doesn't know this just yet, but I am so thankful and grateful that he has been brought into my life.

Whenever I'm down. and I'm having a rough day he is always there to make it better. Whether it’s him lying watching TV with me, or it's him running around the house just projecting this ray of happiness around the whole house. He makes me happy and brings joy to my life. Every chance I get I spend time with him and just having one-on-one brother-to-brother time is a chance that I get to show my gratitude to him.

What I want you to take from my story is the idea that showing gratitude can bring positivity to your life, and maybe like me, bring you motivation to be successful and work hard. As well as bring joy and happiness to someone else's life even if he is three-years-old and has no idea what gratitude means. Your mom will feel loved and appreciated and that three-year-old brother will keep looking up to you as a role model.

Show your gratitude and thankfulness to your loved ones, show it to everyone that impacts your life because it will lead to their happiness and contribute to yours. Which I think is ultimately what the core value of gratitude that Landon pushes for is all about. Thank you. Go Bears!