“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful; it’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”
–Brother David Steindl-Rast
Gratitude is powerful. It seems there are more and more articles about it everywhere I look, from Forbes magazine to Psychology Today, telling us that practicing gratitude will reap huge benefits. This simple practice gives us higher levels of optimism, reduces depression as well as chances of heart disease, improves sleep, and boosts our well-being.
Those benefits of gratitude are too good to ignore. All parents want the best for their children. I imagine that many parents wonder how to get their children on board.
As a way of life, gratitude will help your child focus on life’s gifts and look at the world through a lens of abundance. Gratitude can heal, energize, and change lives. It is an affirmation of goodness.
Asking your child each day what they are grateful for is such an easy and simple practice. I wrote Before I Sleep: I Say Thank You to spread this message to families. I modeled this book on the Jewish Shema prayer I learned as a child. You certainly can say that the Lord works in mysterious ways, leading this former teacher-turned-children’s-author to a Catholic publishing company run by religious sisters! Imagine my surprise when I learned that St. Ignatius’ Examen prayer is so much like this sacred practice I learned so many years ago!
Start a routine of gratitude with your child today. Ask them five things they are grateful for. Model this for them if needed. Adding it to your normal bedtime routine is probably the best way to be consistent and develop a habit of gratitude. If another time works better for your family, it doesn’t matter when you do it—consistency is the key. Before long, your children will end each day with grateful thoughts.
Gratitude works to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. It connects us with our Creator and helps us see the gifts God gives us. Grateful people feel good and want to help others—this creates a wonderful cycle of goodness. With more compassionate and helpful people, the world is a better place to be.
So celebrate World Gratitude Day and start your children on the path to a grateful life—your family and the world will benefit from their grateful hearts!
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Carol Gordon Ekster was a passionate elementary school teacher for thirty-five years. Now retired, Carol is grateful that her writing allows her to continue communicating with children. When not working on her books, Carol spends time doing yoga, reading, and bike riding. She is the author of Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?(A Story of Divorce) and Ruth the Sleuth and the Messy Room. She lives in Andover, MA with her husband Mark.
Copyright 2015 Carol Gordon Ekster.
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