Happy Thanksgiving, McMaster IT community
Where did summer and September go? I am asking for a friend (me!)!
It is time to shake off the ‘start of the fall semester’, and shrug on our current reality: that this semester is moving too fast! Does anyone else have a rumbling in your stomach for comfort food, an attraction to pumpkin spice smells or a gravitation towards the warm cosy sweaters in your closet? Fall is here and Thanksgiving … Is. In. Just. A. Few. Days! Wow. Thankfully (yes), this Thanksgiving will be SO different than last year, won’t it? Having family with us and not being in a lockdown is a major reason for giving thanks as we enter our long weekend. What I know for sure is that it will be a well-deserved and much needed three-day weekend for all of you – and perhaps longer for a few who have done some great planning.
Thanksgiving Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to share my THANKS and ‘THANKS GIVING’ with you. Given all the activities that have been taking place to get our students, staff, instructors, and researchers ‘Back to Mac’, I want to recognize your continued dedication and energy. With your leadership and contributions, we had a very successful start to Fall 2021, supporting a large population increase on campus, preparing classrooms, supporting learning technologies, course materials, meeting spaces, desktops, service areas, vaccine upload systems, and many other systems and activities. It has been very seamless! And what goes into creating a seamless IT experience? Collaboration, cooperation, and perseverance – and let’s be honest, it also takes some scrambling and frustration, do-overs, and late nights. Regardless, you consistently demonstrate a willingness to dive in and figure things out. Hard things. New things. Complicated things. It may require long hours, many meetings, testing, re-doing and fixing, however across the McMaster IT community, you tackle these challenges head on. I am immensely proud of what you achieved this semester, and what you achieve daily. Together.
This is also an opportunity to contemplate the challenge of knowing that “Thank You” cannot always convey the deeper appreciation that words try to express. It feels woefully inadequate to just say thank you when I know your professional successes also often come at personal cost. Couple that with the other personal activities and responsibilities we all have, and it has been a very challenging, relentless 18 months (plus). I do hope as you enter this Thanksgiving weekend, you will spend time contemplating your successes and the many things to be grateful for in your life. Being grateful is proven to elevate our sense of happiness, so it has big payback! And it can also increase your energy and productivity. If you want to amplify your gratitude and really jump start your Thanksgiving weekend, here are some ideas for giving thanks and embracing gratitude in a way that will get beyond the simple words:
- Expressing thanks to others with concrete examples of what you are thankful for – what did they do, how do they make you feel. Sharing our appreciation with others elevates our happiness – giving is receiving and sharing generously with our appreciation of others has huge benefits, both tangible and intangible, and being specific can provide meaningful connections with lasting consequences. I was trying to be very inclusive above in my message as you all do different things for McMaster. Being in person would allow me to really lean into giving personalized thanks!
- Remind yourself what is going well and be grateful for that – as I said above, it has been a very stressful 18 months, and this late summer and early fall have brought many challenges. It may seem at times like that will not end, however Dr. Martin “Marty” Seligman’s, “Three Blessings or What Went Well?” practice reminds us to take time to focus our minds on positive things at the end of a day to remind ourselves of our successes and that we DO have many things to be thankful for each day. Each Day! Bonus tip: This could be done as an exercise with others (while eating pumpkin pie) so you can share in each other’s successes – may be a great family dinner table ice breaker!
- Take time to contemplate how to make the most of gratitude in a way that resonates for YOU. Adam Grant has a great podcast on this! Perhaps some quiet time this weekend to listen and think about gratitude would be rejuvenating.