Monday, April 20, 2020

The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus meaning pleasing or thankful.  Gratitude is often considered to be the thankful appreciation of a kindness or generosity such as help, a favour or a gift.  But gratitude can be shown towards something that doesn't exist for, or have any relationship with a receiver such as a sunset or a colour.

Research in the field of positive psychology consistently finds that a strong relationship exists between gratitude and happiness, so I think that now it is more important than ever for us to cultivate gratitude.

Luckily it is not hard at all.

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1.  Really Good Things

Set yourself a goal to write down 3-5 “really good things” every week.  For years I had a blog where every Friday I would post “Friday’s Fabulous 5” which meant that even if I hadn’t taken time to be mindfully grateful throughout the week, on Friday I would need to take the time to reflect and think about 5 fabulous things I wanted to share.  

2. Thankful Thursdays

Practicing gratitude is a great thing to do as a group.  When I was a classroom teacher I incorporated a mindful gratitude practice by hosting “Thankful Thursdays”.  Every Thursday during the morning circle time we would go around the group and everyone would share one thing they were grateful for.  Obviously this can be done on any day - I just liked the alliteration.   And it doesn’t have to be limited to a classroom - it’s a nice way to cultivate mindfulness as a family, or perhaps you can embrace technology and and host your own virtual “Thankful Thursdays” with your friends, extended family, or work team.

3.  The Gratitude Jar

There are many ways to manage a gratitude jar and it’s a fun way to cultivate mindful gratitude in your family.  Encourage everyone in your family to write down things they are grateful for throughout the week and put them in the jar.  Then once a week (or once a month, whatever works for you), spend some time  together where each person has the opportunity to pick a piece of paper from the gratitude jar and share with the family what it says.  

*If you are hoping that everyone in the family will cultivate gratitude it would be good to set a measurable and achievable goal such as “write down something you are grateful for every day” or  “write three things you grateful for every week”.  If you have younger children you can do it with them as part of their bedtime routine.

4.  Write a Thank-You note

Or a love note to a friend.  You can make yourself and someone else happier by expressing your thanks or appreciation to another for how they have enriched your life.  (This works better if you visit the person and give them their letter of appreciation in person, but if a visit isn’t possible put your letter in the post or email them - it’s better than not doing it at all!)

5.  Gratitude Journal

If you are someone who enjoys ritual this is a really nice addition to an evening routine.  Make it a part of your bedtime routine to reflect on the good things that have happened that day and write them down in a notebook or journal.  

Gratitude doesn’t have to be for something profound to make a difference.  On days that are more heavy than light, when it feels hard to find something to be thankful for, think of anything that brings you joy - the colour yellow, the smell of coffee in the morning, a warm jumper…

What are you grateful for today?

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