Gratitude – lessons we can all learn
“What have we got to be thankful for?”
So, today is the first day of December. Every year, it is a time to reflect on the past 12 months, and 2020 has been a year we’ll never forget! However, what it has done is help us all put our lives in perspective. Instead of focusing on what we do not have, many of us have seen the benefit in showing gratitude for the things we do have.
Sadly, many families and people lost so much this year. Not only due to COVID–19, but also because of the knock on effect this has had on employment, health and many other aspects of our lives.
One of the greatest gifts we can give people is an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Gratitude is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe. It has the ability to transform any situation from negative to positive and attract more things to be grateful for. It ultimately allows us to live a more fulfilling and happy life.
If you have not already made a conscious decision to integrate gratitude into your daily family life, now is a great time to start.
Why is gratitude important?
Here are some of the reasons why gratitude is so powerful. We’ll also suggest some practices we know from experience have positively impacted families.
Reminding ourselves and our children what we have to be grateful for gives us all a new perspective on life. Children and teenagers don’t always have the instinct to be grateful and end up complaining about a situation or focusing on the lack of something. For example, if a child wants a new toy or a teenager wants a new computer game, get them to look through the toys and games they already have and name five they are grateful for and why.
It’s important to include the ‘why’ as this involves feelings, which makes gratitude an experience instead of a purely intellectual exercise. Children and young people will remember how happy they were when they played with these toys and without fail, they will want to start playing with them again. Instead of focusing on the lack of, they are reminded of how much they already have. This reinforces feelings of fulfilment and contentment.
Another benefit of gratitude is abundance. Whether or not you believe in the law of attraction, it is a great principle to introduce into your child’s life. The principle is, whatever you focus on grows – or in other words, whatever you are grateful for will increase. If we focus on what we do not have, the less abundance we will attract. This is something that many people who have a positive outlook understand and is a motivating factor in their gratitude practice.
The quickest way of transforming a negative situation into a positive one is by changing your focus. There is always something to be grateful for, which makes this a very easy exercise. If your child is complaining about something, they can get stuck in a negative rut, but we can help our children to feel better by shifting them to an attitude of gratitude.
For example, if a child, a teenager (or ourselves for that matter) complains that they are bored or about something they think is unfair, engage them in a gratitude game or conversation (make it age appropriate). It’s like playing ‘I Spy’, but with naming things you are grateful for.
This can be something as seemingly small as having fresh clean water to drink, or as big as our health. When talking to children and young people about what we are grateful for, begin by saying: “Thank you (child’s/children’s name/s). You bring so much love and joy everyday”. This immediately shifts their mood and transforms them into a kind and loving mindset. They will then usually follow suit by saying how grateful they are for their family. Remember that children take their cues from the people around them and what they experience.
Keep a diary
Children, teenagers and adults will benefit from writing a list of things, or keeping a notebook. So when we feel down or ungrateful for what we have, it’s a good reminder that we often have more than we think!