Every night before we put our daughter to bed, we share what we’re thankful for as a family. We’re thankful that we’ve had three meals that day, that something funny happened, that we’re part of a nice school community, that we read a good story, that we have a family… Big or small, serious and silly, we share what has helped that day be good (or what has been good in a hard day).
We’ve done this for three or four years I think, and it helps. It helps us not take things for granted.
It’s helped a lot this year.
I think it would have been a valuable thing to be aware of as I was finishing my PhD. It was easy to put a lot of pressure on myself, to doubt that things would go well in the viva (so many doubts!!), but I had a lot to be thankful for:
- I could have been thankful that my supervisor was patient and supportive.
- I could have been thankful that I had a community around me that cared.
- I could have been thankful that I knew my examiners a little, so had some idea of how they would behave.
- I could have been thankful that my thesis went in on time.
- I could have been thankful that I had ample time to prepare.
- I could have been thankful that I had results I was certain of.
But for the most part I read my thesis, made notes and wondered what my examiners would say. All of the above was true, but I didn’t recognise it. Simply reflecting on “What are you thankful for?” could have helped me appreciate some of it. I probably would have still been nervous, but perhaps with a little more perspective on how I’d got to the viva, and what that might mean. I think it would have helped me.
I offer it as a thought: when it comes to your PhD, your thesis, your viva – what are you thankful for?
Massive thanks to Dr Pooky Knightsmith, who was my guest on the podcast a long time ago! I spotted her daily practice of being thankful some years back on Twitter, and this inspired our family bedtime routine.