Foster a grateful heart

Parenting Principle #6: Demonstrate your gratitude

Practice gratitude each day – both alone and with your family. Practice gratitude every day. Just 15 minutes of gratitude each day has many benefits that grow from your heart, to the heart of your family, and on to your community.

Our society tends towards the negative. Things are frequently inconvenient or disappointing. That is not the lens through which you want to see your world, however. Instead, make a conscious effort to increase your gratitude skills.

Extensive research has shown many benefits of gratitude. Gratitude increases feelings of connectedness and peace. Not only will the bond of your family grow stronger, but each member of the family will benefit as well.

Consider these benefits of gratitude

  1. Gratitude helps develop empathy. When we’re grateful, we’re more aware of others and less concerned with ourselves. We have a broader understanding of the world around us. As a result, we’re better able to be patient and understanding with others.
  2. Gratitude enhances feelings of joy. Even when the storms of life present themselves, grateful people are able to remain hopeful. Gratitude cultivates a core feeling of joy that is not evaporated in times of stress.
  3. We sleep better when we’re grateful. By ending your day with gratitude, you’re less likely to ruminate on the negative aspects of your day. If you’re able to see the goodness and express gratitude, you’ll feel stronger feelings of peacefulness.
  4. Gratitude builds resilience. By actively acknowledging the specific things that you’re grateful for, you’re a making positive effort to look on the bright side. Life is less likely to keep you down when you’re able to see the light through the fog.
  5. Gratitude increases self-compassion and decreases negative self-talk. When we’re able to step back and look at the positive, our thoughts are likely to mimic that positivity. This will lead to more positive self-talk and forgiveness in future errors.

Gratitude in Action

It’s one thing to think about and appreciate the idea of gratitude. It’s a different thing entirely to put that gratitude into action. You may want to be grateful, but are not sure how.

You can start by noticing positive aspects of your day. At the end of each day, ask yourself, “What was my favorite thing about this day?”

Start small and work your way up to paying more attention to gratitude. When you’re able to express gratitude in a meaningful way, you’ll reap all of the benefits of a consistent gratitude practice.

By practicing gratitude as a family, you can teach your children to be grateful independently. Here are some ways you can practice gratitude as a family:

  1. Create a family happy jar. Grab a jar and a stack of index cards. At the end of each day, have everyone write down one thing they’re grateful for about the day on an index card. All of you can share what you’re grateful for and then put your index cards in the jar. Date the cards so you can look back at all your happy memories!
  2. Talk about three things you’re grateful for. On the way to school or over breakfast, list three things you’re grateful for. Ask your children to do the same. You can all begin your day with gratitude and gain a positive outlook on the day.
  3. Write thank you notes. Show your children the importance of expressing thanks by sending thank you cards. Whether you’re grateful for a vacation, a gift, or an opportunity, a thank you card is always appropriate. This will teach your kids to really think about their gratitude.

By spending time in gratitude, you’ll feel a peace with the present moment that is hard to achieve any other way. When you can accept and be grateful for what you have in the moment, you’ll feel at ease with your family.