"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more." ~ Melody Beattie
When our founding fathers had their first Thanksgiving feast they gave thanks for the abundant harvest. Today, Thanksgiving offers us an opportunity to give thanks for the people and experiences which make our lives richer, and there is a harvest of new research about the positive impact that gratitude practices can have on our well-being.
I’m not talking about the Emily Post good manners type of gratitude (the rote “thank you” that we say and that we are constantly trying to drill into our kids), but the reflective kind of gratitude which the Thanksgiving holiday encourages. Gratitude not only feels good for the recipient, but has even bigger benefits for the giver. Research has found that people who regularly express gratitude:
- Feel more satisfied
- Feel better about themselves and life as a whole
- Are more optimistic
- Are 25% happier
- Have fewer health complaints
- Sleep better
- Are reported by others to be more likeable, more enthusiastic, more attentive, more energetic and more determined.
So how can we foster gratitude in our kids?
- Encourage your kids to share “3 Good Things” about their day at dinner or at bedtime
- Keep a family gratitude journal or a gratitude jar
- Use visual reminders such as a gratitude list posted in the kitchen that family members can add to
- Encourage kids to tell someone why they are grateful for them (interestingly, saying it in person is much more effective for the gratitude giver than just writing a note).
- Model it for your children
Visit www.zinheher for a list of current Parent-Ed classes based on Dr. Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness home study.