6 Big-Hearted Ways to Practice Gratitude
By: Sarah Aadland of Big Hearted Families
On the one hand, Thanksgiving is this bright, shiny, ready-made opportunity to celebrate the abundance in our lives. Next week (next week?!), at family gatherings all over the country loved ones will be counting their blessings as part of the pre-dinner roll call.
On the other hand, soon after that ritual stuffing of ourselves and its requisite post-dinner nap, we start another list: the holiday wish list. And now matter how kind-hearted we are, or how grown up we are, this activity gives us a huge case of the gimmes.
It’s an unfortunate juxtaposition, especially considering the latest research. Gratitude is a sure path to happiness, much more so than anything on that other list. If you want to know more about the power of gratitude, check out Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude can Make You Happier by Robert A. Emmons.
Or if you are ready to get your family started on a year-round gratitude practice, here are 6 tips to get you started.
1. Read: Our 5 Stories to Inspire Gratitude will help you start the conversation.
Check out our printable Pithy Placemats
for a simple way to inspire big-hearted dinner conversation with your littlest
family members. Or get in the habit of asking Who have you helped today?
4. Count: Try our simple Help the Hunger Month project. Make a daily habit of counting something you are thankful for (shoes, snacks, pillows, etc.) and putting that number of coins in a jar each day. Then donate the funds to a poverty relief organization.
5. Write: A simple, sincere thank you brightens the day of someone who has done you a kindness. Plus, it gives you a small amount of time to really focus on your gratitude for that kindness. Pay particular attention to those easily over-looked people in your lives, like the particularly helpful cashier, your bus driver, or the waste disposal team in your neighborhood.
6. Give: Temper the gimmes with generosity, not just during the holidays but all year round. Visit Big-Hearted Families to find our extensive list of project suggestions to find the perfect way to start your family’s tradition of service.
Whether you have five minutes or five hours to give, whether you have an infant or a teen, whether you are doing well or working hard to get by — your family has a contribution to make. And in the process, you’ll be teaching your children that giving back is a natural part of growing up.