October 20, 2022

CHOUNG | Practicing Gratitude 

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As we head into the depths of prelim season, it’s time to take a step back from the constant cycle of stress, test anxiety and sleep deprivation to practice gratitude for the simple pleasures that can be found in the little corners of Cornell. According to Harvard Health Publishing, gratitude is strongly associated with positive emotions and happiness and is encouraged during times of unhappiness, whether that stems from the amount of stress experienced or dissatisfaction with grades received, for example. 

There seems to be a prevalent culture of pessimism and staggeringly low mental health at Cornell, especially in difficult classes, as referenced in Levin’s article, “The Problem of Weed Out Classes.”  It almost seems to be a right of passage for every Cornellian to dedicate hours of intense studying only to receive a subpar grade that does not reflect the amount of effort they put in. It’s a harsh reality that can be difficult for Cornell students to accept, especially if they are used to being the top of their class with little to no effort put in to achieve that status. In times of shifting realities, it’s best to ground ourselves with gratitude and appreciate the little things that surround us in our daily lives. Here are three simple pleasures to reflect on and to keep an eye out the next time you catch yourself overwhelmed with classes. 

  1. Fall Foliage

Coming from California, I assumed fall was a season for Pumpkin Spice Lattes, the occasional leaf falling and wearing shorts all season long. Fall, in the simplest Californian definition, was an extended version of summer. The weather didn’t start cooling down until November (cooling down in the sense that the temperatures drop from 80 to 70 degrees) and there weren’t any changes in the scenery that signaled the transition between summer and fall. 

Ithaca, on the other hand, seemed to be the premiere destination for beautiful fall foliage. When I first saw the leaves change colors, I was mesmerized with the beauty of it all. Endless oceans of gold, red and orange coated the trees and I took extra time in my walk to class to take in the natural beauty of upstate New York. It is a completely different world compared to where I am from. Every time I see a leaf fall, I take an extra second to practice gratitude for the scenery around me. 

  1. Grabbing a hot drink from Libe Cafe

Most of my classes are located in or near the Arts Quad, making Libe Cafe my go-to location for a pick-me-up in between classes. I’ve come to appreciate BRBs (I’m sorry, Jack; I must refute your article: “Big Red Bucks are a Big Red Rip-Off.”) sheerly for the fact that it doesn’t feel like I’m spending real money on my purchases. As a freshman, I’m automatically set on the Unlimited Meal Plan, meaning that I have 400 BRBs to use up before the semester ends. I’ve set up a budget to use a set amount of BRBs per week so I don’t have to worry about purchasing large amounts of snacks and drinks at the end of the semester just to use up my BRBs. This means I get to treat myself to a drink or a snack of my choosing every week and it’s a simple luxury that I look forward to. Normally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to treat myself because I always saw it as a waste of time and money. Now that I have an incentive to, life has become just a little bit sweeter. 

  1. Cornell Sunsets 

If I had a penny for every Cornell sunset I’ve seen on my Instagram stories, I would be a rich woman indeed. It is one of the most popular pictures to post on social media — and rightfully so. After a long day of classes, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the beautiful sunset peek through the trees on the trek back to North Campus. The sky is painted with various hues and it is a breathtaking experience to see the quiet transition between day and night. The world always seems to quiet down at this time, and for a moment, all of my worries wash away. Next time you see a beautiful sunset, take a moment just to enjoy it. 

I’ve learned the importance of practicing gratitude, especially in a college setting, because it grounds my mind when life becomes overwhelming. Taking time to appreciate the little things in life reminds me of all of my blessings and reestablishes my personal motivations during my time here at Cornell. It isn’t always easy to slow down and take a moment to reflect, but when you do, you’ll often find that things aren’t always as bad as they seem. 

Adin Choung is a freshman in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected] A Dinner is Served runs every other Thursday this semester.