What Is Gratitude?

Of all the characteristics we value here at Alpha Kappa Psi, perhaps the most rewarding one is gratitude. The concept of gratitude extends much further than simply saying “Thank you.” Rather, it is a state of constant gratefulness for the good things in one’s life, both big and small. Not only is it a virtuous trait to let people know your appreciation when they have helped you in some way, but staying alert and aware of all positives in your life can be beneficial for the self. Robert Emmons, a Professor of Psychology at UC Davis, said that gratitude is both an affirmation of goodness and the acknowledgment that the sources of goodness are external, coming from sources outside ourselves. What does this mean for our daily lives, especially when it’s easy to get bogged down by stresses and nagging deadlines? Let’s take a look at how gratitude can be expressed in the workplace, with friends, and with family.

Gratitude in the Workplace

In a workplace setting, demonstrating gratitude can go a long way towards motivation and a positive environment. A study performed by Glassdoor found that four in five employees said they were motivated to work harder when a boss showed them appreciation for their work. While this kind of positive reinforcement often comes from management, any employee can foster this kind of gracious culture by taking time to make others’ efforts feel appreciated. A survey conducted by the John Templeton Foundation revealed that people are least likely to express gratitude in the workplaceFor example, your coworker may have worked diligently to put together an updated list of company vendors. While they may have done this after being asked by a manager, their efforts mean less work for you and your peers when you need to find the contact info for one of these third-party companies. Let others around you know that their work is noticed and appreciated. It might also be helpful to take time out of your day to take note of the things you’re grateful for at work, as a study performed by Robert Emmons found that keeping a gratitude journal improves mental health and well-being.

Gratitude with Friends

Expressing gratitude to your close companions is not only a kind thing to do, but also beneficial for your relationship. A study by UC Berkley found that gratitude can make people feel more invested in friendships, meaning that when you show gratitude it can encourage those helpful gestures by your friends and even jump start good deeds of your own. Our friends are usually the people we turn to when we’re looking for help. In fact, they can sometimes be reassuring to us even without us expressing that need for assistance. How often has a funny text from a friend or a relaxing group lunch been just the thing you needed to get through a particularly hectic work week? Even if you’re not in need of anything, your pals validate your feelings and add joy to your daily life. Letting your friends know your gratitude for the things they do can make them feel more valued. You can do it by letting them know how they help you throughout the day; you can also show it by returning the favor. If a friend is often giving you rides to concerts, maybe offer to pay for the tickets. If they took you out for dinner, you could cook for them. Whatever you choose, being genuine with your emotions and making an effort is an excellent way to keep developing your friendships.

Gratitude with Family

When we consider the link between gratitude and family, it’s hard to not think of Thanksgiving. This holiday often brings together family from all over to eat, catch up, and – of course – say thanks to one another. While this yearly event is certainly convenient, it doesn’t need to be the only time you express gratitude to your family. Instead, consider trying to schedule monthly or even weekly conversations with those in your extended family. Even if you don’t have time for a full-blown catch-up session, you can still reach out to them with emails, video chats, or even letters. Not only is this a great way to make relatives feel important, but it can also be vitally important for your older family members. A study from the University of California, San Francisco found that 40 percent of seniors regularly experience loneliness. Another study by the Association for Psychological Science said that loneliness among the elderly can increase the chance of mortality by a whopping 26 percent. Letting these folks know that you’re grateful for them, whether it’s for a specific act, or just in general, can go a long way in making them feel and live better. Gratitude can be expressed in many ways, but in the end it’s truly about remaining aware of all the goodness that comes from those around you. That goodness might come in the form a helpful document from a coworker, a night out with a friend or a caring chat with a loved family member. Whatever it may be, showing your gratitude is a great way to build relationships and improve your own sense of well-being.

 

Breaking the Barrier – The Inclusion of People of Color in Alpha Kappa Psi

Winter, 1949.

The date was February 8, 1949. Three new chapters had been installed the year prior, but 24 charters were pending approval from their respective universities. The concerns of Alpha Kappa Psi leadership grew each day that passed without a resolution from the universities where the futures of hundreds of potential principled business leaders were held in limbo. A decision needed to be made, and according to then Grand President R.A. Hills, it needed to be made quickly.

Mail Ballot, Past Grand President R.A. Hills.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view the text of this image, click here.

The Fraternity Board of Directors received a Grand Council Mail Ballot from then Executive Director J.D. Sparks requesting a vote on whether to hold Grand Chapter (now called Chapter Congress) ahead of the Grand Chapter meeting already scheduled for 1950 to consider the race and creed clause.

Between the years of 1921 and 1950, the restrictive race and creed clause was part of the Alpha Kappa Psi Constitution. The clause read: “Members of Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity must be men of the Caucasian race professing the Christian faith and shall be accepted and initiated into membership only by and through a college chapter.”

After weeks of deliberation by mail, the board of directors rejected the special Grand Chapter meeting proposal, claiming that moving hastily in a time of uncertainty was unwise. However, other Greek organizations also had a restrictive race and creed clause in their constitutions around this time and had made changes to the language in their governing documents as well. One Greek organization referenced in the minutes admitted only individuals who were “men socially and professionally acceptable,” per their edited constitution.

As a result of the board’s deliberation, the decision was made to include the vote in the 1950 National Convention Grand Chapter Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

Fall, 1950.

The morning was warm on September 8, 1950, in Minneapolis. One by one, the delegates approached the threshold of the meeting room, only allowed to take a seat after announcing themselves. At the time, each chapter of the Fraternity was allowed one delegate at the Grand Chapter Meeting. During Grand Chapter, delegates voted on legislation to amend the Constitution of Alpha Kappa Psi.

The Committee on Membership Requirements voted 11 to 2 to recommend that the restrictive race and creed clause be deleted from the Alpha Kappa Psi Constitution. The majority report was written by members of the committee who supported removing the clause completely from the Constitution while the minority report was written by those who also supported removing the clause from the Constitution, but subsequently, suggested it be added to the ritual manual.

Brother James P. Lucas of the Omicron chapter at Montana presented the majority report. With eight points of support, the recommendation was later accepted by the Grand Chapter to be voted on.

In the years leading up to 1950, 20 existing collegiate chapters were in jeopardy of losing privileges awarded to student organizations or becoming inactive on their respective college campuses due to the presence of the restrictive race and creed clause in the Constitution. In addition, 24 colonies in pursuit of an official Alpha Kappa Psi charter were put on hold or rejected completely because of the “announced undesirability of the restrictive clause,” as Brother Lucas noted in his recitation of the majority report.

Integrity, a core value of Alpha Kappa Psi since its founding in 1904, emerged as the overarching theme to the vote. Of the two options provided for removing the restrictive clause from the constitution, one would prove to be deceptive while the other would require the organization as a whole to stand with integrity in support of all men, even those cast out by many people within the United States.

During discussion of the majority and minority reports, a brother from Miami University stated that the restrictive clause showed a lack of confidence in a chapter’s ability to admit new members. Because members must vote on each pledge that requests admittance into the chapter, the restrictive clause proved redundant.

Proponents also argued that having the clause “hidden” would be dishonest and sneaky, ultimately putting into question the integrity of a person, a chapter, and the Fraternity.

Opponents suggested that removing the clause would prohibit the high standards of Alpha Kappa Psi and would extend membership to those who would not be accepted by all people of the country.

Of the 81 delegates present, 61 votes were required to pass the motion for removal of the clause. The motion passed 66 to 14. One delegate was not in the room during the vote.

After the vote, various members expressed their opinions, with one brother stating, “…I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll fight all my life for your right to say it…the majority have spoken and believe in our hearts that probably is the way it was intended. If we don’t feel that way about it, we are probably not the best citizens of the United States, because we as a nation feel that way.”

2019 marks the 69th year of the vote allowing people of color and people of any or no religious background to shape the Fraternity’s membership.

Diversity is more than a buzzword in Alpha Kappa Psi. Diversity is a value we choose to foster every day. Expanding our knowledge on a subject we are unfamiliar with allows us to enrich the membership experience. Our organization is the sum of its parts – each area, region, section, chapter, and member molds us into who we are. Is there a history of diversity in your chapter you could learn more about? How is your chapter celebrating diversity and choosing to participate in the conversation? Join the discussion.