There’s been a lot of research on gratitude and its effect on us. The results are mostly positive which isn’t all that surprising. Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier, healthier, in better relationships etc.
I’m sure everybody agrees that having a sense of gratitude is useful and good but; unfortunately, we don’t practice it in our day-to-day lives often enough. There is so much to complain about when you look around you and complaining is the easiest thing to do. So what can be done about it? This is another one of those moments when children become the teachers and the adults should be taking notes.
How do children show their gratitude?
Mom and dad’s patience and self-control are put to the test almost every evening in our household. I’ve never understood why children don’t just fall asleep when they are obviously dead tired. They should’ve learned by now from their exemplary parents who doze off while reading bedtime stories. Monkey see, monkey do…I wish :D.
I guess we’re too good at reading if we put ourselves to sleep. Like a hypnotist who falls under his own hypnosis. It’s tough being so talented :D. We had another one of those challenging evenings recently that was filled with the usual frolicking ending in a water fight in the bathroom (which the parents naturally lost; kids 1 – parents 0). However, we somehow managed to trick the little rascals to get in their beds, evening the score.
We managed to slow their roll and even agreed on what book to read. Who knew that our two- and four-year-old are such literary critics? They have such a different taste in literature and as I’ve stated before, they are master negotiators. Once we came to an agreement, we changed the subject and talked about how the day had been. Before the boys fall asleep, we tend to ask them what they’re grateful for and why today was a good day.
My oldest son proclaimed that everyone can name three things today and he’ll go first. He was grateful for his brother sharing a cookie with him (no. 1); that he had enough character to share his own cookie with his brother as well (no. 2); and that we got a baby sister (no. 3). I was amazed by their ability to find joy in things that adults don’t even notice (by that I mean the sharing of cookies not the birth of their baby sister. Believe me, I was painfully aware of her coming into the world :D). How often do adults enjoy the little things or are we even able to do that?
How I learned to be grateful
I learned gratitude while selling books in the States. I truly learned to appreciate my life and the people around me after seeing thousands of different lifestyles. I realized how lucky I was with my family, friends, work and so on. I thought about what I was grateful for every morning on my way to work and did the same on the way home.
Our work was very much results oriented which can be stressful. Shifting the focus to gratitude really helped me de-stress and reminded me what really matters in life. I realized that the day’s results don’t change the fact that I have a wonderful life and a thousand other things to be grateful for.
That sense of gratitude has remained with me to this day. It is the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning – what am I grateful for? I write it down in my Gratitude Journal during breakfast so that it never escapes me. In the evening, I go over the day and think about what went well. My husband and I remind ourselves daily about the things we’re grateful for, how good our life is and how lucky we are to have each other (well, I’m definitely the lucky one and I guess he just puts up with me:)).
Grateful parents make grateful kids
I’d like to think that we’ve set a good example for our boys and our sense of gratitude has rubbed off on them. Even though they drive us mad sometimes with their shenanigans, it is incredibly heartwarming when they express genuine gratitude for having made the best dinner in the history of all dinners (it’s a good thing that their expectations are set so low that scrambled eggs blow their little minds.
I’ll take it – no complaints here.); or for helping them tidy up their room. When they add that they are so grateful for being born to this family then that does it. Put a fork in me, I’m done. All of the shenanigans are forgiven and my heart has a difficult time staying in my chest. At that moment I could squeeze them so hard their little eyes would pop out of their head. Alas, I restrain myself because I don’t want them to change their mind :D.
They say that gratitude has healing powers. I can’t back this up with any medical data but I for one have definitely felt how gratitude puts things in perspective and by doing so, makes me feel calmer and more joyful.
What to be grateful for?
How often do you think about what you’re grateful for? Do you notice the little gifts that make their way to you on a daily basis; even if it is in the shape of a simple smile from a stranger?
We should be grateful for having arms, legs, eyes, and ears – the ability to move, see and hear. Be grateful that you have dishes to wash (because that means you have food to eat); a room to clean; laundry to wash. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a phone or a computer enabling you to read this post. Things we take for granted are only a dream to some. Try explaining your frustration about the gyms being closed for a month because of the new COVID restrictions to someone missing their legs. Like I said, gratitude puts things in perspective.
My youngest son got to spend the whole day with his grandmother the other day which means that he was the center of attention and boy did he love it. He announced that this day was the day of his dreams when he got home in the evening. His brother replied by saying that every day is the day of his dreams. Is every day the day of your dreams? I’m calling on you to mirror children in the way they treasure the little things in their day-to-day lives and express genuine gratitude. Monkey see, monkey do…remember? 😉
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