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A letter from The Head – 16 May 2023

16 May 2023

Dear Hiltonians,

Someone thanked me the other day, and it fed my soul.

This simple act of kindness, expressed in words of gratitude, lifted my spirit and invigorated my being. Encouraging and affirming, it directed my focus towards that which is positive; it afforded me an opportunity to bask a little in the joy of knowing that I brought joy to another.

Gratitude is life-giving; it turns our focus outwards; it encourages us to recognise the gifts we have received.

Gratitude is married to generosity; they thrive together.  Unfortunately, I am ill-equipped to suggest a formula by which gratitude or generosity can be taught, but perhaps we can think about this a little…

Both behaviours can be modelled, and they develop through practise. I think this begins when we are very young, when we are encouraged to appreciate those around us; when receiving anything from someone always elicits a “thank you”.

Generosity is homed in a belief in abundance, in a chosen perspective that there is enough to go around, in a series of micro-decisions that one makes which demonstrate a belief in there being sufficient, even plenty.  Holding onto and amassing more and more for oneself is counter-intuitive to a spirit of generosity and a freedom to share. Learning to give freely and extravagantly, not measured in volume nor amount but in attitude, must surely be a part of the DNA of a generous spirit.

Enabling and assisting our young men to develop an attitude of generosity and of gratitude takes practise. Among other initiatives, our intentionality around serving others must grow in order for us to model these behaviours.

I have had the privilege of meeting so many generous families at Hilton; their belief in abundance is palpable. Finding ways of embedding this perspective in young people who are often self-centred at this time in their lives is challenging but necessary.  A new pair of sneakers, another hoodie, the latest phone, all centre on self; however, making sure a dorm mate, who may have a need, is catered for through sharing or gifting by one who has; taking time to enquire of a friend as to his well-being shifts one’s focus to another before self; allowing others into the queue ahead of you, knowing that there is plenty in this world.

I am convinced that both generosity and gratitude are strands of our DNA but we must nurture them with intention to ensure we reflect these attitudes even when it is easier to pursue selfish motivations.

My thanks to all in our Hiltonian community who live generously with a grateful spirit.  It is life-giving.

Kind regards,

George Harris

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