Everyone has heard that it’s important to be grateful. Religious leaders have been telling people to be grateful for thousands of years. There’s even a holiday dedicated to the idea of giving thanks and feeling grateful. Why is gratitude so important? And how can you be grateful when you find yourself in less than desirable circumstances or when you see negative events happening around you?
Unless you aren’t aware, you’ll have some knowing of negative things that might be happening. You may be having health or financial struggles. Maybe your town experienced a natural disaster and you’re busy getting through that. Or perhaps you listen to the news and hear about war, hunger, and poverty.
When you notice and give energy to the negative things in the world, it’s especially important that you practice an “attitude of gratitude.”
Feeling grateful doesn’t take away the events that don’t feel good. It doesn’t magically make them go away or make everyone feel loving thoughts towards someone they had disdain for moments before.
What gratitude does is help you remember that there are good people and things in the world. There are millions of wonderful things happening around you and across the globe, and probably in your own life.
Rather than noticing what isn’t going right for you, you can express your gratitude for even the smallest blessings. Doing this shines a bright light on them, affirming their existence and raising your vibration to be in alignment with this goodness. This kind of energy allows what you want to come into your life.
It can be easy for you to fall into a pattern of dissatisfaction and begin complaining about how difficult things are. Even your children can fall into this pattern, as they will often mirror and reflect how you are feeling and behaving. They may complain about having to feed the dog or do their chores, rather than being grateful for the love and companionship the dog provides.
As a parent, you can help your children feel thankful by expressing and demonstrating your gratitude on a regular basis. You can actively point out to your kids the little things that make you feel good. I often encourage people of all ages to have a gratitude journal and write in it every day. You may choose to share some of your entries with your children and encourage them to share theirs with you.
Take this another step further and write a note to your children. Let them know how grateful you are for them. This will certainly enhance their self-esteem.
Do you remember getting “gold stars” in school? You can create your own gold stars of gratitude and let your kids know how much you appreciate it when they clean their rooms, help around the house, or get along with each other. Try not to limit your thanks to specific actions. Let your kids know you appreciate their smiles, hugs, creativity, playfulness, and other qualities.
Not feeling particularly grateful? Take a minute to stop and look around you. Appreciate your life as it is right now, the roof over your head, the loved one you spoke to this morning, the family activity you just organized.
Teaching kids to feel grateful for the good in their lives is a wonderful gift. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and to be around people who are willing to thank them for their contributions. By teaching your kids to express their feelings of gratitude, you’re helping them develop a habit that will serve their own wellbeing.
On top of all this, science is discovering that gratitude actually has physical health benefits. People who regularly practice feeling grateful report they sleep better, have lower blood pressure, healthier cholesterol, and fewer aches and pains.
Everyone wants their kids to grow up to be happy and healthy. It’s clear that teaching them to be grateful — especially when things get rough — is a valuable tool in reaching that goal.
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© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.