Grateful for Gratitude…
I am so grateful for gratitude and all it has brought me. It has changed me and how I view the world. Practicing daily gratitude all year long has created a more positive life for me and I believe for my children and I’d like to pass on a little of what I have learned even though I am always learning and growing in this area.
One thing that was awesome about taking our children abroad for a few years, was them learning all they couldn’t get in another country and the gratitude that actually happened. When we came back to the United States we were so grateful! Red vines, rootbeer, and hot tamales were at the top of our list, but there was so much more that I saw in their thinking. It was in the little things… but gratitude affects the big things!
I don’t think one needs to move abroad to become grateful. There are so many ways to incorporate it in our day. In the research that is coming out now about gratitude it is incredible. They say grateful and mindful people are happy people and happy people are not only mentally healthy but physically healthy and live way longer. I think most of us parents want our children to be happy and live longer, so how do we help them to be grateful first?
Gratitude creates happiness because we focus on what we have and not on what we don’t have. A perfect example of a practice I have started in the past years is when I start to get down because maybe something isn’t going well in my life. In the past I may have felt sorry for myself, now I try to tell myself three things that are going well for me. Gratitude takes the “poor me” self talk away and instead allows you to have the “I am so fortunate” self- talk which allows a person to also put things in perspective and become resilient in high stress or hard times. Successful people can do this and we want our own children to be able to do this and find success through their hard ship.
Here are just a few more tips I have used in my classroom and in my home that might be helpful….
Gratitude Jar- We are actually going to start this in our staff lounge this week. I am so grateful for gratitude because it takes us from a fixed mindset or a growth mindset… things might be hard now, but look at all the good, it is bound to get better! With a gratitude jar people put on little slips of paper one thing they are grateful for… it adds positivity to a home or workplace. This can be done in many different ways… next week we will have leaves on the table at Bingo Night so all can share what they are grateful for. When we express our gratitude we also feel positive feelings inside.
Gratitude Self- Talk- Every morning on the way to work I try to think of one amazing thing I am grateful for… sometimes it is the color of the sky, my heated car seat, sometimes the fact I have the best job in the world being surrounded by incredible students. Life is hard, so if we start our day with gratitude it tends to set us up for a more positive day.
Gratitude Envelopes- One tradition I did in my classroom and always on Thanksgiving in our home are “Gratitude envelopes”. Every child in the class or every person who comes to dinner gets an envelope and then there are slips of paper that say “I am grateful for…………..because……. Each person fills out a slip about each person and puts it in their envelope. It can stay private and people can read it on their own or you people can share if they choose, but it is a great way to “fill others buckets” some might say.
Gratitude Dinner Talk- My son was going through a phase a few years ago where he was really being negative about school, about our life, our move, etc. and we started taking turns saying three things we were grateful for each night during dinner. At first it was really hard for him to think of, but by the end of the first week, it came easy and the negativity turned to positivity, just from this simple dinner talk.
Serving others- I have always found that when I serve others I feel grateful. Before we moved from Ecuador I was a chair of a non-profit where we gave books to kids in need all over the Seattle area. Our non- profit ended up going from only giving a few thousand books each year to over 100,000 books to kids each year. Then in Ecuador my family helped build the first library and the first little free library in all of Ecuador. This serving others who were less fortunate has always given me and my family great feelings of gratitude. Find a cause, and do it together… not only it is a way to give back and feel gratitude, it also brings you closer together as a family.
There are so many ways to feel and show gratitude in our lives each day. Even on the hardest and roughest days, there is something we can be grateful for. Here are some other great articles that can help you encourage and foster gratitude in your kids. I for one, feel so grateful I can even pass these articles on to you… thank you for reading them and helping your child be grateful citizens of our world. Thank you for being their first and most important teachers and for helping them be happy and better people because of the gratitude they feel and show each day.