“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” – Aesop
When I was a pre-teen, my family went on a road trip to the Grand Canyon.
My father had already been there. He had ridden a donkey down to the bottom as a matter of fact, but he was thrilled to have the chance to show me the amazing wonder.
When we arrived and finally stood atop the massive canyon of burnt orange rock, my father grinned like a Cheshire cat. “Well, Jessi, What do you think?”
“I thought it would be bigger,” I blurted before I had the chance to shove the words back down.
I was the one missing out on the joy that everyone else was experiencing
Even at that age, I felt terrible and was sure I had crushed my father, but without skipping a beat, he wrapped a tanned arm around my chubby 11-year-old waist and chuckled. “Man, you are tough to impress. I feel sorry for whoever you marry.”
I remember that moment vividly because it stuck with me and I think it changed me on some level. There were throngs of people from far and wide there at that park that day just to see the grandeur of the canyon, and I had not been impressed.
A pre-teen sense of self-awareness hit me, and I realized that I was the oddball. I was the one missing out on the joy that everyone else was experiencing. That day I grew up just a little and realized that life is much more about how you see it and choose to experience it than anything else.
When we choose to experience life as a party, then it is a celebration every day. But, the reality is that far too many people never figure out that secret.
Some people chase money, thrills, drugs or sex to fill the void of joy in their lives.
I became a much more mindful person as I grew and what was an unimpressable pre-teen became a grateful woman. As a mother, I am deeply committed to fostering an attitude of gratitude in my kids.
I grew up in a very comfortable lifestyle with plenty of vacations and fun activities and whatever toys or books I desired. If I am honest, I was spoiled as a child. Though I like to think I just got a bit sour but never rotten.
I was hit with some harsh blows in my teens that taught me enormous lessons. I think that is where my appreciation for the little things comes from because I am not sure it was instilled in me much as a kid.
However, when I think of my sons’ maturation process, I deeply hope that they are not dealt the same difficult cards that I was at a young age.
I hope they learn to be grateful simply through living with their father and I. We try to model it every day.
But, we are certainly no gratitude experts, so I have compiled a few lessons from those who are. I’ll close with words of people much wiser than I.
Kids who practice mindfulness will notice the simple and beautiful things in the world
“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
The more that we live in the moment and the more mindful we are, the happier and more grateful that we are. Kids who practice mindfulness will notice the simple and beautiful things in the world.
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” – Buddha
Rather than focusing on what did not happen, or did not go our way, focusing on what we have gained or what has gone well for us will foster thankfulness.
Talk to your kids about the “ups and downs” of life (and of each day) and push them to focus on the good stuff whenever possible.
“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” – Nietzsche
Art is therapeutic and fun for kids. It is also a fantastic way to keep them mindful and help them practice joyful and thankful living. Encourage creativity whenever you can.
“A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”
When we think grateful thoughts, we feel more appreciative. It is just that simple.
Teach your kids that they have the power to create joy (or unhappiness) in their own lives just by controlling their thoughts.