Practicing Gratitude

How do you practice gratitude as a family? Is it something that’s a part of your daily routine or your conversations with each other? If not, perhaps that’s something to consider making a part of your family’s daily schedule. Gratitude and mindfulness can be introduced to your children at any time and at any age. Below find some times on ways to help incorporate gratitude and mindfulness into your family’s routine.

1. Start first thing in the morning. This is as especially good tip for those of you with children who are toddlers. When you go in their room to wake them up in the morning, have them open the curtains with you and say, “Good morning, world!” Each of you should say something you notice about how beautiful the day looks outside. Is the sky filled with streaks of color at dawn? Are the trees green or orange with color? What are the things you and your child notice in the moment that make you feel good and happy? This will help not only in setting a tone for the day, but also in developing a sharp eye for observation and understanding how to access gratitude over simple joys.

2. Write it down. With school-aged children, have them pick out or decorate a pretty notebook and call it their gratitude journal. At the end of the day, have them write at least three things that happened during the day for which they are grateful. It can be as simple as making their friend laugh to doing a cartwheel in the park. Chances are, once your child gets started writing, they’ll end up with way more than three things a day for which they are grateful.

3. Read about it. Learn how to cultivate gratitude and train yourself to be more present by reading books centered around mindfulness. Author M. J. Ryan’s book “Attitudes of Gratitude” teaches us that “Gratitude creates happiness because it makes us feel full, complete; gratitude is the realization that we have everything we need, at least at this moment.” In addition to Ryan’s wise words, the book is also filled with quotes of advice on gratitude, happiness, and mindfulness from some of the world’s greatest minds.

4. Craft it. I once left a family of five, who needed help with several family issues, with homework. Their homework was to make paper chain links of gratitude. They would write on the link and link each of the paper chain links together every day. I came back a month later and saw such a shift in their attitude and focus due to them being more mindful of the things in their life they were grateful for as a family. Just think if we all spent 5 minutes doing that?

5. Feel it in the moment. As you go through your day, briefly pause throughout it and find something you’re doing or seeing and appreciate it. No matter how simple the thing, item, or act is, recognize it as it’s happening and it will cultivate a sense of joy within yourself. The more you practice present mindfulness, the more happiness you’ll feel throughout your day. And that happiness radiates out to those around you.

6. Don’t stop. As you and your family begin to see results of the various ways you are practicing gratitude, keep it going. Don’t lose momentum. Gratitude and mindfulness is a never-ending process and the more you do it (and the more consistently you practice it) the better you will feel. Practicing gratitude has been known to help improve mood, reduce stress, and increase your level of happiness.

You and your family don’t just have to stick to one particular way of incorporating gratitude and mindfulness into your daily lives. Mix it up. Try it all. Experiment with it. It should be you joy and not stress over “was I mindful enough today?” There aren’t any rules to what works and what doesn’t and how many times a day you should be mindful. So relax and begin to take notice of the world around you and the things (both large and small) from which you and your family derive pleasure.

With much gratitude, Jo x

Copywritten by Jo Frost

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