There are countless affirmation cards, booklets and lists that guide us to think about what we are grateful for. These writers whether it is based on faith or not have a point. Being a soul with a grateful heart is unmatched and unwavering. It takes effort to build the habit, but it is worth it. One can very much live a life seeing everything through a negative lens or placing themselves as a victim. Could you imagine living your whole life without noticing a single thing that you saw as a gift or a blessing? As we approach Thanksgiving in the United States - a month away - cultivating a habit of gratitude in ourselves and in our family can be a useful tool.
Cultivating a habit of gratitude in ourselves:
Gratitude is actually a virtue believe it or not. In the catechism of the Catholic Church, virtues are said to be habitual and firm dispositions to do the good, which allows one to perform good acts and give the best of oneself (No. 1768). To live in gratitude is a choice, it is a resolution and a way of life. To live a life of gratitude is possible, but it is elevated by the help of God’s grace if we ask Him for help.
The other choice we have is to live in ingratitude which leads a bitter and lonesome life. Being a bitter person makes it hard for others to enjoy being in your presence and leads to loneliness; whereas gratitude brings joy! In order to cultivate this gratitude it requires one to be creative!
What would spark you to be more grateful? For some it would be to watch a documentary of those less fortunate or help out at a food kitchen.This is because to be more grateful it requires us to go beyond ourselves. It requires us to say in that moment, “I will choose to not think about what I want or what I do not have and think about what I do have and what I am lucky to have”. It is a mindset shift and a default train of thought we should be aware of!
Cultivating a habit of gratitude in our children:
Cultivating gratitude in our children also requires creativity and some self-awareness. Children are like sponges and learn first how to see the world through what you show them. Do they hear and see you living a life of gratitude? Do you pray thanking God for every meal? Do you try to foster a sense of how much you and your family have been given and why it is so good?
It is about showing them the good and realizing it is unmerited. Aiding them to reach the conclusion that what they have been given is a gift and should not be taken for granted! Again, where do we start? Well by living it yourself and being the amazing examples God created you to be.
Gratitude Activities to work on as a family:
Give thanks to God for a new day as soon as you open your eyes!
Give thanks before and or after every meal.
Give thanks for safe traveling to and from destinations.
Have conversations about one thing they are grateful for in the day.
Host a family day of gratitude.
Remind yourselves at bedtime for all the things you are grateful for.
Have a gratitude jar: each member puts one thing they are grateful for in the jar daily as a reminder of all the things as a family we are grateful for! It could be something you read at Thanksgiving or throughout the year.