I believe that the key to building an amazing life is to build it on a strong foundation of gratitude. Gratitude for what we already have brings more and more of the things we want into our lives. It is such a powerful practice and something that anyone, at any age can start.
Gratitude Tip: It’s never too early (or too late) to begin a gratitude practice. There are so many ways to bring gratitude into ours lives and we can adapt it based on age and ability. Make a commitment to start or grow your own gratitude practice over the next 30 days. And for the parents who are reading this, why not start a gratitude practice with your kids?
In my own life, my gratitude practice has been growing and evolving for about the past 9 years. I have been committed to a daily gratitude journal since August of 2011. I felt it was important to include my daughter in a gratitude practice once she was old enough to speak. For a long time, all we did was say out loud a few things that she was grateful for, that day, before she went to bed. This was a nice way to start getting in the habit of being grateful just before she fell asleep. You can do this with kids of any age, and it’s an easy habit to start.
This January, we started writing down one thing she is grateful for, every night on a piece of paper. I was inspired by a gratitude jar I saw posted on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page. I had a notepad from The Secret called The Secret Daily Teachings and thought it would be good to write on the back of these. It’s been two months since we started our practice together and as you can see by the jar, we haven’t missed many days. At first, we were writing for her. Now, she is writing herself (she’s 5 and a half) and we’re helping her sound out words – total parenting win as she’s practicing her writing and spelling too. I am excited for the end of the year when we will look at all of the notes and see how much she has improved.
More than just a jar of thank yous, it’s become a new habit for her. In fact, she gets very upset if we suggest not doing her gratitude because she’s too tired! She can handle not getting a story, but don’t take away her gratitude. Does she really understand what she is doing? Perhaps, it’s tough to determine at this age. Regardless, she takes her time to think of what she is grateful for (we do our best not to prompt her) and then writes it down. We recently added the word ‘God’ to her thank you (Merci Dieu pour …) to include our faith in her gratitude.
There are so many simple ways to teach our children to be grateful, including adding a prayer or thank you before a meal or snack, waking up and giving thanks or even a gratitude journal. Even if your own gratitude habits aren’t very consistent, that’s ok! Start together, one thing at a time, and create a family habit of gratitude together.