“If we want to be happy, and to raise happy kids, we need to practice gratitude — deliberately, and consistently, or we may end up feeling more entitled than appreciative. When we feel entitled, we often stew about unfulfilled expectations. Entitlement makes us more likely to feel disappointed when we don’t get what we think we want, rather than grateful when we receive something. Disappointment is not a happiness habit. Gratitude is.” – Christine Carter
Now that we have approached this busy Holiday Season, many of us may feel the stress of attending parties, baking, buying gifts, spending special time with family, in addition to managing our typical daily routines. Finding ways to keep peace and happiness can be difficult during this time of year!
How do we keep this from influencing our children and our connection within the family? Be intentional! Don’t let the Holiday frenzy control your family and leave behind a feeling of being overwhelmed, stressed out, unsatisfied and grumpy. And even more, don’t let the frenzy steal your family’s joy or your gratitude!
How do you start being intentional and adding an attitude of gratitude? Start by expressing gratitude for what you have, where you are and who you are with.
New research has shown that people who express gratitude are more likely to be happier, healthier, optimistic and more likely to be helpful to others. They spend less time achieving materialistic items, spend less time being envious of others and less likely to experience depression.
Here are 5 quick and easy ways to integrate gratitude into your families life, while developing connection and happiness:
Count your blessings. When every member of your family is able to be present, such as at dinner, have every person list at least three things that they are grateful for throughout the day.
Read a book on gratitude together as a family. Find a book at the library on gratitude and talk about what gratitude means to your family. Here are some suggested books:
Grateful: A Song of Giving Thanks, by John Bucchino
Thankful, by Eileen Spinelli
I’m Thankful Each Day, by P.K. Hallinan
The Thankful Book, by Todd Parr
Help your kids write thank you notes to give to someone who has done something for you, said something kind to you, where you can give them the thanks that they deserve.
Make a family thankful tree. Create a tree out of craft paper, and post to the wall, or use an existing tree in the home. The tree is representative of the family, and each branch is a member of the family. The leaves (or craft paper leaves) are each member of the family and their thankful thoughts for the family, family experience or gratitude statement. Write each item on a leave and attach to the tree. Share with each other at a special family gathering.
Make a family gratitude jar. This jar collects all of the memories of things that have happened that someone in the family is thankful for. Write it down, place it in the jar and save for later. Find a special time once a month, or on a very special day of the year, to read the memories together as a family.
Enjoy and be blessed!