“We can only be said to be alive when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
Studies of healthy centenarians show a resounding common theme that these individuals live in gratitude. They have consistently embraced life for what it is, and they do not lament what is NOT.
I lost my job 9 months ago. In the period following my termination, I felt anger, pain, and rejection. It was nearly impossible for me to express gratitude, or even much grace, as I faced the loss of half our household income. I felt shame, panic, and disbelief.
I had a hard time accepting the difficulty and being grateful that we still had our house, love for one another, and food to fill our plates. I had a hard time seeing the change as a chance for me to create my own business and pursue my passion for prenatal fitness. It’s easy to do that now – in retrospect. I can NOW express gratitude for the challenges that losing my job brought to me and my family.
Looking back, I needed a Gratitude Journal – and I needed it to be unconditional. If you’re not familiar with a Gratitude Journal, it’s a notebook, piece of paper, or sticky note where you record our daily Top Ten List of what you are grateful for. Some days it may be more challenging to find the golden morsels.
But must they always be golden?
I challenge you to create an Unconditional Gratitude Journal with your family. Here’s how:
- Get a notebook or composition book.
- Decorate the cover. This can be a fun project for the whole family.
- Choose a time when the family is together to talk about what you are grateful for. We do this at dinner time. We go around the table and each child and parent answers the question, “What are you grateful for today? Answers may be as simple as “my house” or “my bed.”
- Place the date on the top of a page and record your Top 10 List in your Unconditional Gratitude Journal.
- Younger kids might enjoy drawing pictures and older kids can practice writing by recording the list.
- Some days it will be easier to create your list than others. On challenging days, your children may need a prompt such as, “Aren’t you happy the sun was shining today?” or “Aren’t we fortunate to have a stove to cook with?” or “What did you learn from the disappointment of losing your soccer game today?”
Think about the times in your life when you have turned lemons into lemonade – and raise your children to do the same! In gratitude, recognize today not only the abundance in your life, but also the scarcity and the opportunity this presents to you for growth.
What are you feeling gratitude for today? How do you instill this value in your children?