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The Mother of All Virtues

The world our children are growing in is a highly complex one and so much in our paths is designed to distract us. It is a confusing world in many ways and there is much to worry us as parents. Depression and anxiety affect millions, addiction in its many forms is widespread, obesity rates continue to grow in many countries, and general unhappiness, numbness and dissatisfaction are commonplace.

Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach draws on a concept called “Gap and Gain” and he sees that many people live in “the Gap.” For example, I might buy my child a chocolate bar on the way home from school and when I give it him he might say, “You didn’t get the one I like.” That’s the gap. Even though the gift wasn’t quite right, it was still a gift, and he failed to appreciate the act and see “the Gain” in it. There was no gratitude.

The Roman statesman and philosopher, Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.” It’s worth considering this statement for a moment: can any other virtue truly exist without gratitude? Can hope, for example, truly hope without gratitude? Is humility sincere without gratitude?

Without gratitude all other virtues are lessened or nullified. We may extol the virtues of hope and courage, but is hope real without the appreciation for what that hope can bring? Is courage real without appreciation for what courage really is, and what that courage demands? And what is appreciation without gratitude?

I have heard parents say on many an occasion that they want their child to be happy – and I could not agree with that statement more but happiness cannot be had without gratitude. We need to enable our children to view life is not as a “gap” but as a “gain.” This philosophy is at the heart of what The British School of Monaco will strive to achieve. Core values of integrity, responsibility, respect, kindness, courage and curiosity are embedded in all we plan to do. Ours is a family school, where everyone will be known, valued and appreciated – and that appreciation is key – appreciation of each others’ strengths, interests and learning styles – and viewing each day’s opportunities as “gain.”

Each day will offer each one of us challenges but we need to view these as further opportunities for “gain” – and “gain” with gratitude. As the poet Douglas Mallach wrote:
“Good timber does not grow with ease:
The stronger wind, the stronger trees;
The further sky, the greater length;
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow.”