G = Gratitude Attitude
Being grateful is a way of looking at life, and at seeing everything, every person, and every possible experience as a gift.
Are you trying to cut down on your spending, but having a hard time curbing the urge to splurge? Do you find that your kids are constantly asking for the latest and greatest new toy or gadget? Consuming less might be good for the environment and better for your pocketbook, but it can be hard to break the cycle of constantly acquiring something shiny and new. Taking the time to give thanks for what you already have can help.
A gratitude attitude extends further than being thankful for the possessions we own, although that is a part of it. Our world views are passed to our children because they hear us thinking every day. By practicing gratitude, we teach our families to appreciate what we have, be humble in our desires, take care of our belongings and honor our relationships, our home and our Earth.
Research shows that daily gratitude exercises contribute to increased alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy.
- Give thanks before each meal. Creating routines around gratitude helps to make being thankful a habit. Many families find that the time before a meal starts is an easy time to stop and give thanks. You might also encourage your kids to “count their blessings” or tell you a “these things rock” list at night before bed.
- Write thank you notes. A custom that’s often forgotten, teaching kids how to write thank you notes is not only good manners but helps them take the time to acknowledge other people’s generosity. You don’t need to limit thank you notes to birthday presents; consider writing thank you notes after play dates or a good deed done by a neighbor. Let younger kids participate by drawing pictures to send as thanks.
- Ask your children to share the highlights of their day. Asking “what was the best thing that happened to you today?” encourages kids of all ages to reflect on their day with a positive attitude.
- Keep a gratitude journal. A daily or weekly record of the moments you are grateful for not only helps you remember what you’re thankful for, but encourages you to go through your days on the lookout for positive moments that you can note later in your journal. Non-reading kids can keep a gratitude journal by drawing pictures or collaging, or by using a camera with you to create a digital slideshow to look at while waiting in line or otherwise stuck in what might be a frustrating activity.
- Tell your children thank you. One of the best ways to teach gratitude to children is to show them gratitude. Tell them thank you when they say or do something nice and let them see you do the same with other adults.
Read Zen Habits’ “Why Living a Life of Gratitude Can Make You Happy” for more ideas. You can also pick up the book Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.