Gratitude is an essential, but often overlooked, component of our mental health. Over the past several years, I have made important shifts in my mindset which include expressing gratitude every day. In doing so I have slowly seen changes to my health and well-being. I’ve started practicing gratitude with my children so they can experience the same benefits and it’s my mission to share this practice with as many families as possible.
What is Gratitude?
According to google gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” A person who is grateful is thankful for what they have and is able to see the good in people and situations.
Gratitude is simple, but powerful.
We were all raised to say thank you, and teach our children to do the same, but often we are so busy, we miss the big picture.
Gratitude towards others is more than saying thank you. It’s about acknowledgment. It’s easy to say thank you, but acknowledgment is about doing more. It’s about recognizing someone for their efforts, their generosity, their friendship, their talents, etc.
I don’t know many people who don’t want to be acknowledged in some way.
Being acknowledged and appreciated simply makes us feel good. It starts as children when we seek our parent’s approval and assurance to help us feel secure, and continues as adults as we seek acknowledgment in the workplace and in our relationships.
When you practice gratitude you not only appreciate others, you can also have a better appreciation for yourself and your surroundings.
Importance of Gratitude
Why is practicing gratitude important? Gratitude helps our children begin to understand what others do for them and become empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of those around them. There are many benefits of a gratitude practice for kids including improved self-esteem, reduced aggression and a greater appreciation for the world around them. Having a daily gratitude practice is simple and the benefits are endless.
How does Gratitude Improve our Lives? 10 Positive Effects of Gratitude Practice:
Gratitude improves your physical health
Experts believe that gratitude actually improves one’s physical health. When you are grateful for your health you are more apt to exercise, eat well and avoid things like smoking and alcohol when you’re an adult.
Gratitude makes us more optimistic
When you change your mindset from a “glass half empty” to a “glass half full” mindset, you become more optimistic, in turn being happier and healthier.
Gratitude makes us happier
It’s simple, really. When you appreciate all the little things in life you are happier, friendlier, more energetic, etc.
Gratitude improves self-esteem
When you are happy, optimistic and healthy your self-esteem will naturally increase improving your relationships, your confidence, and your productivity.
Gratitude improves your productivity
A happy, healthy, self-assured, energetic person is a focused and productive person.
Gratitude reduces aggression and frustration and increases empathy
When you practice gratitude daily your mindset gradually changes and you will experience less frustration and more understanding and compassion.
Gratitude improves sleep
When you’re grateful you are happy and optimistic; thus, you worry less and sleep better.
Gratitude improves relationships
When you appreciate your family and your friends, they, in turn, appreciate you. You can better let go of the little things that may frustrate you and focus on the positive attributes of your family and friends.
The awareness of what we are grateful for can lessen the feeling of wanting more all the time
You may find that things you once wanted are no longer as important as you find more appreciation for what you have.
Expressing gratitude makes us better parents
Being grateful helps us to raise confident, optimistic, healthy, happy, and grateful children. What more reason do you need!?
How to Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude isn’t hard, but for some, it requires a major mindset shift. If you are negative and more apt to look at the glass as half empty, than half full, changing your mindset may be more challenging. If you start this habit early in life it is much easier to create life long habits that will have a lasting impact. That’s why I’m so passionate about inspiring families to practice gratitude from an early age.
Here are a few ways you can practice gratitude. These tips are for both adults and kids, because our kids learn best from what they see our parents doing.
- Keep a gratitude journal. This is my favorite way to practice gratitude and the inspiration for this website! Check out our shop for kids journals! We even have a few for adults on Amazon! Check out the Life Well Designed Journal where you can track your daily gratitude and reflect on the day. Modeling this behavior is one of the best ways to teach your children!
- When you find yourself in a bad situation ask yourself – what can I learn from this?
- Make a vow to yourself not to complain or criticize for a week. If you slip up – give yourself grace and keep trying.
- Send someone a card just because.
- Send a text message to someone and tell them how much you appreciate them. Better yet, pick up the phone and call them!
- Make a goal to compliment at least one person each day.
- Start a gratitude tree – cut a trunk and branches out of construction paper and tape it to a wall or window. Cut some colored leaves and help your children write down something they are grateful for every day. Add it to your tree and watch it grow!
- Create a blessings jar – Find a jar and cut up some scraps of paper. Write down something you are grateful for each day and add it to the jar. If you are struggling with your mindset or doubt, pull out the pieces one by one to remind yourself of your many blessings.
For more on how to practice gratitude with your kids check out – 9 Way to Practice Gratitude with Your Kids.