“The most abundant lives are the lives full of gratitude.”
The number one complaint I usually have about my own children is how ungrateful they often act. My daughter can give a nasty stare when she’s not pleased to know we’re having Sloppy Joes again, and my son melts to the floor like slime when he’s asked to take 1 minute out of his day to put away his toys.
But honestly, how can they help it? Most children don’t see their parents practice gratitude on a daily basis. And it’s hard to be grateful when things are handed to you. How can our children understand what gratitude is or how to practice it, if we’re not practicing it as well? I can’t count the times I whine about my job or silently curse the laundry and dishes (okay, not always silently, sometimes very loudly).
We can’t just tell our children to be grateful, we’ve got to show them how. We have to teach them gratitude is more than saying thank you. The most abundant lives are the lives full of gratitude.
Here are some daily practices of grateful people!
1. Gratitude Journaling
Keep a gratitude journal to reflect simple thoughts of gratitude. This is a very easy task, even if you don’t like to journal. There are even special journals you can buy for this or you can just write in a notebook.
Every day, take 1-2 minutes to write what you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as the weather, or as deep as spending time with a loved one. If you do this every day and strive to write something new each day, you will begin to see how much you really have to be grateful for. It’s a great idea to have the kids do this as well. Dot it together!
If you’re not so fond of writing down your thoughts of gratitude, practice out loud. In my house, at dinner time, everyone states 2 good things that happened during their day. It’s important to give ourselves daily reminders of what we’re grateful for.
2. Choosing Not to Compare
Social media is the worst when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. I’ve seen countless photos and read hundreds of status updates that make my stomach sink and my brain say, I wish I could go to Disney World. I wish I could afford a new house. I wish my kids behaved that well. I wish my job was that awesome. I wish… I wish… I wish…
Keep in mind, for the most part, people only post the good stuff. With the exception of a few extremely honest friends, people usually don’t keep Facebook updated on their divorce, or post an Instagram picture of their failed exam, or Tweet about pills they’re addicted to, or Pin pictures of the ugly cake they just decorated.
Nope. We usually wallow in sorrow, alone.
Your life is uniquely yours. Stop obsessing over how everyone else seems to be doing so awesome and focus on what’s good in your life.
You can use social media to do this as well. How often do you go to your own Facebook wall or Instagram page to scroll down through all the awesomeness that you’ve shared with your friends? Take a minute to notice why others might be jealous of in your life, and be grateful for it. You can even turn it into a book!
3. Being Present in the Moment
I’m totally guilty of not doing this. I might be looking at my phone, and trying to make plans for the weekend when I faintly hear the sound of my son’s voice. It’s not that he’s talking quietly, it’s that his voice is muffled by my own thoughts.
It’s like an episode from Family Guy. Then I half listen to what he has to say and shoo him away.
Being present in the moment is difficult. We’re often reviewing in our heads what happened yesterday, and going over what needs to be done tomorrow.
Make a conscious effort to slow your mind and notice your present surroundings. Put down your phone and be where you are. Is what you’re doing valuable? Who needs you right now? How can you make the present moment more loving, more kind, more fun?
If you’re at work, then work without thinking about what needs to be done at home. If you’re at home, be present for your family and stop worrying about work. If you scheduled time for yourself, don’t bother yourself with guilt, but be fully present in enjoying your me time. Use your time as you intended it. Worrying about what needs to be done in your next slot of scheduled time only harms your present focus.
Be grateful for the now and take advantage of it’s intended purpose.
4. Being Mindful of Your Internal Language
This practice can be tough because you have to catch yourself in the act. Think about all the times during the day when your mindset turns negative. Maybe it’s when you get up for work, but you don’t want to go. Maybe it’s when the cat pukes on the carpet, and now you have to clean it up.
As these things occur throughout your day, remember to stop and notice your thoughts and then consciously make a new, positive one.
After you think, I’m too tired. I don’t want to go to work! Replace it with, I’m grateful I have a job because it allows me to do fun things with my family on the weekend!
After your thought of, I’m sick and tired of the stupid cat puking on the carpet! Replace it with, I’m grateful for my cat because she gives me love and cuddles with me at night.
There must be a good reason for your job, and a good reason for your cat. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have them. Remember the good reasons and be grateful for having them.
5. Saying Thank You to the Good and the Bad
This was the toughest practice for me until I heard Tony Robinson say something like, If you’re going to be grateful for all the good parts, then you better be grateful for all the shit, too. Why? Because it’s responsible for who we are.
Are you proud of who you are? Then you need to say thank you for all the bad stuff too because it MADE you. Be thankful that your parent was an alcoholic or drug addict. Be grateful you were in a terrible car accident. Say thank you to that asshole who stole your credit cards. These people and events may have devastated you at the time, but they are a piece of your unique puzzle. If they weren’t part of your life, you wouldn’t have quite the perspective that you do. You would be a different You. You may even be a softer, less badass you.
The next time something seemingly negative occurs in your life, try to stretch yourself into thinking how it makes you better. And, when enough time has passed, say thanks and be grateful for it.
Once we’ve mastered these daily practices of gratitude our mindset begins to shift into a new, more positive perspective. Since our actions often reflect our thoughts, not only will we feel more grateful, we’ll start to act more grateful.
Our kids pick up on our attitudes about life whether we want them to or not. If we practice gratitude, eventually our kids will be grateful too.