Ancient philosophies, like, yoga and meditation, have long understood the power of gratitude, and more recently, scientific researchers are catching on. Several studies have shown the amazing effects of being thankful for what we have. The benefits of appreciation are far-ranging and include:
- Better Sleep
- Increased Determination
- More Enthusiasm
- Increased Focus
- Decreased Depression
- More Dopamine
That’s right. As that last one implies, practicing gratitude actually changes the chemicals in our brains! Dopamine is a neurotransmitter commonly associated with feelings of pleasure, and, it can make us more likely to repeat a behavior because of the good feelings that it generates.
Simply stated, the more that we practice gratitude, the better we feel!
So, being thankful is good for us, but, it’s also good for those around us! One study found that couples who show their appreciation toward one another are happier, even in the midst of conflict.
Perhaps the most important people that we can show gratitude for are our children. Yes, we know, they can be messy, needy, and down-right annoying at times, but, bear with us. You see, we believe that demonstrating gratitude can have extremely positive effects on our offspring.
But, first, what do we mean by “demonstrating gratitude?”
Believe it or not, it’s not just as simple as saying “Thank you,” although that can be a start. True gratitude occurs when we think about what we already have, and feel happy about it. It’s the opposite of the never-ending quest for more that our culture generally encourages. Whenever we find ourselves saying, “I will be happy when…,” we know we aren’t practicing gratitude. It doesn’t come from losing ten pounds, or getting a new car, or seeing higher numbers in the bank account. Remember, when the Grinch realized that Christmas didn’t come from a box or a bag? Same idea.
Here is what gratitude is not: It isn’t simply comparing yourself to someone whose life is worse than yours, and trying to feel better. In fact, gratitude has nothing to do with comparison, because it can only be felt by being truly grateful for what you have right now.
Okay, back to how this amazing tool can help your kids. First, being grateful in front of your children can help them become more grateful themselves, which, as we’ve noted, can make them happier and healthier people. But, what about being grateful for your little bundles of joy?
Let’s just be curious here. What would it be like if you were to show your child that you are happy to be her parent? Just as she is today, and not when (insert change here)? How would that affect her self-esteem and self-confidence?
Mindful folks believe that if we are to practice true gratitude, we must accept everything that comes into our lives with open arms.
As Rumi says,
“Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
Even if that guest is an exasperating child!
If you would like more information on using gratitude for positive parenting, contact us,