Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Benefits of Gratitude

Have you ever felt in your heart of hearts a deep sense of gratitude that goes beyond just your immediate circumstances but that inspires you with a profound desire to repay Life for what you have personally been given in your life?

And what does gratitude have to do with parenting? The negative thoughts that arise when we are concentrated on the way things should be and are not, can rob us from the joy that our children bring us every day. We need to eliminate our routine negative thinking and labeling of our children before we can actually see the behaviors we want from them.

sandra huber, parenting tweens, kids behavior"Photo by Melita Morgantown"

I know it may sound like a platitude but studies show that focusing our attention on the richness of our experience and saying “Thank You” for even the little things can can be very rewarding. They are finding that grateful people are optimistic and energetic and deal better with stress and illness. Gratitude, in short, can make you happier. But I know you know that. Now the challenge is to actually do it. And there’s really no excuse: especially when you consider your kids are watching.

Truth can set you free and gratitude is not a matter or time or effort: it's possible to move from a life of "surviving" and getting by to one that cultivates a spirit of Gratitude.

When I ask you to consider the power of being grateful, I am not asking you to stick your head in the sand and pretend that nothing is happening that needs your attention. "To say we feel grateful is not to say that everything in our lives is necessarily great," Robert A. Emmons (Emmons, R.A., & McCullough, M.E. -2004. The psychology of gratitude). "It just means we are aware of our blessings.

One of the things that I started doing a couple of years ago and found incredibly powerful, was the nightly routine of a gratitude journal. It has evolved nicely into a deeper daily practice that reminds me of how full my life truly is. A good friend of mine gave me a beautiful journal that I decided to use and write 5 things for which I was grateful. It became a profound ritual that brought a sense of closure to every day. Some times, in our quests to be better, or more successful, or more organized, or better moms, parents, spouses, we get stuck in the energy of more, and forget the gifts of now.

Remember: "Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." - William Arthur Ward

I know that you are keenly aware of how important it is for us to be the kind of adult we hope your child to become. How do you show up in the world with a sense of thankfulness, not only during the Holidays, but all year around?

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