Attitude of Gratitude

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I love how some people list their blessings every day in November. I am not that disciplined, but I love that some people are. I like to read about what makes them thankful.

Thanksgiving is great time to be thankful...I mean maybe not if you are Native American. I am just saying it is something we need to be cognizant of when we celebrate this holiday. It isn't all warm and fuzzy. 

But I digress, we are talking about gratitude today.

I do like the idea of reflecting on your blessings at the end of the year. A time to take inventory. I especially like to do this with children before they get a crap ton of stuff for the holidays. I want them to have some perspective.

The other day I definitely told my children how other children in the world (and in our own country...our own state, heck in our own town) live much different, much harder lives. There was even some talk about children in diamond mines. I know, I know... it wasn't my proudest moment. I don't want to shame my children into being grateful.

It is a balance of learning about perspective, privilege, and place. This lessons are best taught with love (not shame or anger). 

And if I am being honest, I don't always feel grateful or thankful. I can get hung up on the things I don't have, the moments in life that aren't great, and the sadness and crappy parts of humanity. That is human nature. 

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
— Willie Nelson
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And let's be real, you can't talk about being grateful without talking Oprah. She DID tell us about writing in a gratitude journal all those years ago. 

I live in the space of thankfulness — and for that, I have been rewarded a million times over. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because — for sure — what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.
— Oprah Winfrey

I want some of that...I want to focus on the small things, I want to have a space of thankfulness. And I want it for our kids as well. So here are a few things to get us in the practice of being grateful. 

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude

Name your blessings.

One thing that we do in our family (some times...not all the time) is that we do "Highs, Lows, and Weirds." You tell the best part of your day, the worst part of your day, and the part that was cuckoo. My sons class does a variation of this called "Cherries and Pits." It is a great way to get some perspective. Sometimes you feel like "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." However, sometimes it is just how you look at the world.

Read Books

C'mon, isn't that the answer for most things? Reading a book? Reading is a great way to broaden your perspective and to challenge privilege, and to explore place. Books allow you to enter other realities that are not your own. You get to view the world just a little differently. 

Being Thankful is a simple book by Mercer Mayer about being grateful and it is good for younger children. But there are lots of books about gratitude for all ages of children. Go to your local library or bookstore. They are the experts. They are definitely some people to be thankful for. 

Get Crafty

Make a gratitude tree or start a gratitude jar. Both a gratitude tree and a gratitude jars provide ways to develop habits of being both mindful and grateful. And these are tangible physical reminders of what you are thankful for. Plus, the act of making the craft allows the opportunity to make memories about just being together creating. Kids just want to be with you. 

Being Mindful

Spend time with your kids and be mindful of your time with them. My kids straight call me out. "Mom, you are on your phone." "Mom, you just said 'mmm hmmm' so you aren't really listening." Brutal, but good reminders. Let's keep each other accountable. 

This time is fleeting...it doesn't matter if your kids are 2 or 42...this time is going fast and it won't come again. The things that matter are our relationships. Model a grateful heart and spend time with you who you are most grateful for. 

Slow down enjoy your time together, talk, go for a walk, or whatever is "you." Point out the blessings. Hold their hand. Listen to what their are thankful for. 

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For more in depth discussions about gratitude and children check here and here.

And since Advent starts soon (Sunday, December 3, 2017) here is a great resource to continue the attitude of gratitude for the rest of the year ( you don't have to observe Advent to get a lot out of this exercise). It is called the Advent of Gratitude and the concept is this..."Most Advent Calendars present us with a gift each day leading up to Christmas. The purpose of this Advent of Gratitude is to remind us of the gifts we already have, what we often take for granted, what we can and should be grateful for." This calendar lists things to be thankful for and then suggests donating a certain dollar amount to a local charity. The Advent of Gratitude has a community on Facebook if you'd like to learn more. 

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Look for the blessings. Embrace a more grateful heart. And I will see you soon!