Now that the Thanksgiving leftovers are just a memory and the holidays are underway, how can we hold on to a mindset of gratitude? Many of us are aware that feeling grateful also makes us feel happier and more optimistic. I was aware of this myself, but it wasn’t until I started actively practicing gratitude on a daily basis that it created a change in my general mindset. The difference is that even with the ups and downs that life inevitably brings, I’m able to keep the people and things I feel grateful for in the forefront of my mind.
Researchers in the field of psychology have shown that people generally stabilize at one level of happiness, but that practicing gratitude can raise this level. Feeling grateful also improves sleep, fosters trust among colleagues, boosts romantic relationships, and is associated with stronger immune systems. In my family, we’ve incorporated gratitude into our weekly family meetings and into some family dinners. Here are a few activities you can use in daily life to help yourself and your family to cultivate an attitude of gratitude:
1. On your own or with your child, create a gratitude journal where you list things you feel thankful for. If you’re collaborating with your child, include the reasons you’re thankful for each other. Use the worksheet on page 81 of Make Social Learning Stick! or create your own list.
2. Take your gratitude to the next level by sharing it with someone you’re grateful for. Express your feelings in person or in a letter or email. Be sure to offer specific examples of why you feel grateful.
3. In your gratitude journal, write down how you feel after expressing gratitude to someone else.
4. When family members are gathered for a meal, tell the group why you feel grateful for each person.
5. At some point each day, write down one good thing that happened, noting the specific details and why you felt grateful.
Here’s a video that talks more about some of the practices listed above and how to enrich your life through daily gratitude: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5lZBjWDR_c.
The arrival of a new year offers an excellent opportunity to create positive change in our lives. Practicing gratitude might start as a holiday gift to oneself or a new year’s resolution. Chances are, it will quickly become a daily activity because of the satisfaction and happiness it brings.