Thanksgiving may be only one day each year, but the benefits of adopting a grateful mindset are ongoing and significant. Here are just a few:
Kids who regularly practice gratitude are kind.
People with a grateful world view are better able to cope with difficult life events.
Gratitude comes with physical benefits, like a healthier heart, less inflammation, and improved sleep.
Gratitude makes you happier.
Expressing gratitude to new acquaintances helps turn them into friends.
Cultivating gratitude and kindness in your communication with your partner strengthens your relationship and makes you less likely to divorce.
Given the name, you'd think Thanksgiving would be the ultimate day of thanks and appreciation. However, anyone who spent yesterday trying to convince a herd of cousins to stop chasing each other and write down their blessings knows compulsory gratitude can backfire.
Our smallest kids don't even have the capacity to fully experience gratitude. They may say the words, but children younger than three haven't yet developed the array of social-emotional skills necessary for true thankfulness. While children develop these skills from ages three to five, it's not until age six that they're likely to spontaneously engage in the four components of the gratitude experience: noticing, thinking, feeling, and doing.
Luckily, each day presents a new opportunity to help our children of all ages develop these skills.
Modeling gratitude to our children on Thanksgiving is important; integrating it into our daily lives is essential. Dr. Andrea Hussong, part of the research team for the Raising Grateful Kids Study, has five suggestions for helping our kids move beyond the act of saying "thank you" toward the internal experience of feeling grateful (and, of course, realizing all the benefits that come with that). If you'd prefer to watch a video, she discusses the same concepts here.
After only a week of approaching gratitude as a conscious practice for our family, I'm a whole-hearted convert. Maybe it's a coincidence, but it feels significant that yesterday our eight-year-old caught herself after snapping at one of younger brother's interruptions and said in a warm voice, "Thank you for telling me about the crab you found. Can I look at it when I'm done coloring?" The effect has been contagious. When our kids get along, I feel less stressed. And when I'm relaxed, I'm a better parent and human.
As 2017, a year that has been a struggle for so many of us, draws to an end, I wonder if we can change our experience of the world and lay a foundation for a better 2018 by actively cultivating a grateful mindset.
Here's our family's personal gratitude challenge:
Is a gratitude challenge the secret to navigating the holidays with less stress and more joy? Let's find out together! If you plan to undertake your own gratitude challenge, send us a note at email@example.com. We'd love to share your ideas with the community.
Join thousands of moms in our incredibly active online forums where our members will support you in all your parenting needs. Also come to exclusive GGMG events, get discounts through our partners, and participate in mom-focused activities.
Only $75 per year.