Increasing research supports the benefits of gratitude and a healthy practice of focusing attention on appreciations and gratefulness. While this sounds great in theory, it can be hard to introduce this habit into the daily routine of family life. Our aim is to provide resources and tips to help introduce a practice of gratitude that extends beyond the Thanksgiving holiday.
To briefly convince you on the importance of gratitude, a slew of research studies on the science of happiness, social success, physical health, and overall well-being supports intentional gratitude practice. Gratitude is a fundamental aspect of positive psychology, or the theoretical model that focuses not just on surviving, but thriving!
Family values are communicated through shared experiences, conversations, and time spent together. Having a family value aligned with intentional gratitude takes some structure, but can be worth it – when one member of a family is happier, that tends to rub off on the family unit as a whole!
Having a set time to share daily appreciations, such as during a family meal like dinner, may be an easy way to add to your routine. This also communicates that each family members contribution is important to the family culture overall. Having a gratitude object, such as a vase or bowl that family members can add to – and their additions can be appreciations for a parent or sibling, or something unconnected to the family, such as a teacher or the excellent weather today. Develop a routine for yourself that you demonstrate for your children, such as writing in a gratitude journal, or speak aloud your appreciations. Discuss charities and “giving back” to children – receiving a thank you helps cultivate gratitude, too!
Gratitude is closely linked to mindfulness, and it makes sense why! Mindfulness is an intentional awareness and focus on the present moment. Given the focus and intention that comes with a cultivation practice, it makes sense that many mindfulness techniques include a focus on gratitude, and vice versa, it makes sense that a focus on gratitude would be considered a mindful activity. And mindfulness certainly has research support on improvement with mood, and anxiety, and overall health.
The most important part of introducing a habit of gratitude is finding what works best for your individual family and situation. We can help work on solutions, routines, and rituals that work for you and your family, in increasing a habit of gratitude beyond the Thanksgiving traditions.