We all have something to be grateful for. The problem is that we usually don’t realize or recognize our gratitude points in this fast-paced, intensively self-centered world that we live in today. Most people carry with them a sense of entitlement, a lot of us weighed down by our own sense of self-importance, failing to realize that being grateful for the littlest things by consciously practicing gratitude is key to living a much happier and better fulfilled life.
Gratitude is simply the quality of being thankful; and the readiness to show appreciation for as well as a willingness to return kindness.
It is a virtue every family should strive to incorporate into its daily routine. A family that dwells primarily on what is going wrong with its members’ lives usually live empty, depressed and anxious lives while the family that dwells on what is going right are usually happier, less depressed and much less antsy.
How to practice gratitude as a family
Here are six tips to constantly practicing gratitude:
- Share what you are grateful for with each other: You can get into the habit of sharing with one another what you, as a family, have to be grateful for. And remember that before an action can become a habit, it must be done consistently for an extended period of time. So be it at the dinner table, on car rides, or as you tell bedtime stories, develop the daily habit of telling each other what you are thankful for. It might be something as trivial as getting a new hat for winter or as deep as expecting a baby after several years of trying.
- Keep a gratitude journal: As a family, create a gratitude journal, place it in a central place and write in it collectively as a family what you’re thankful for each day. If you are not able to fill in it daily, at least aim to fill it in weekly, and if not weekly, do it monthly. The idea is that you stay at it and be consistent. The rationale behind keeping a gratitude journal is simple; When you document an event, it becomes extremely hard to forget that event because there is a hard evidence that it did happen. On the days when you face challenges whether as an individual or as a family, you can revisit your gratitude journal and be reminded of all the great things that have happened in your life before. If you do not want to go the traditional way of keeping a handwritten journal, you may want to keep a gratitude journal with your family through audio recording, a family gratitude journal blog, drawings and artwork, as well as building a collage.
- Become a giver: The best and easiest way to encourage gratitude in the family is by becoming a giver and reaching out to others who are less fortunate than you are. There will always be people who are more fortunate than you. The same way, there would always be those that are less fortunate than you are. Take advantage of this and reach out to as many needy people as you can. This way, you are not only practicing kindness and compassion, but you and your family also become more appreciate of what you have.
- Talk openly with each other: Upholding a culture of openness and are free to discuss most life subjects with your spouse and kids even when it feels challenging to do means that you are ensuring that there will be many more opportunities for you to learn about and discuss what is going on in each other’s live. This understanding is extremely important because it helps you gain a clearer perspective of where the other person is coming from. And conversations don’t always have to be serious; They can be sometimes silly, lighthearted and frivolous.
- Share a good laugh: Sometimes the easiest and most sure way to practice gratitude is to take the time to share a good laugh with your immediate family. Laughing together will eventually result in feeling happy, grateful and connected.
- Display gratitude: The best way to teach a characteristic is to live it. Never forget that we have the unparalleled ability to teach one another as a family. Show other family members what gratitude really looks like, and they will be sure to do as you do. Thank them for the little things they do for you. Appreciate them for unique characteristics that they possess that no other person does.
So, what are the benefits of living a life of gratitude as a family?
Gratitude plays a serious role in how happy we find ourselves. When you are focused on the positive things happening around and to you, you find that you have more energy, are more inspired and are transformed from the inside out. Here are the top benefits of living a thankful life:
Living a life of gratitude encourages you to exercise more regularly, eat healthier and sleep better
You are better equipped to deal more effectively with stress and are able to recover more quickly from situations that are stressful.
You feel better about your life in general
You experience more of positive emotions such as enthusiasm, love, optimism, and happiness and less of negative emotions such as anxiety, stress and depression
You live in a healthier body and have fewer physical problems
You are kinder to others and are more willing to extend a generous hand to people in need
How does gratitude work?
How can something as simple as being thankful be so beneficial to your whole family?
The reason is very simple. Being thankful interrupts the cycle of fearful and negative thoughts that sometimes besiege us. We are then able to replace such negative thoughts with positive ones. So why not resolve to live a life of gratitude and thankfulness with your entire family as from today onwards?
Frankly, there is no better way to live.