Saturday, November 19, 2011

Simple Saturday: Learning Gratitude

One of the best ways to keep life simple is to focus on being great full for what you have - the material and not-so-material. If I am grateful for my color pencils, I am less inclined to go sigh over additional art supplies. I am grateful that the kids are healthy and healing - that is so much more important than any new thing I need want.

How do we best convey this practice to our children? There is such a pervasive attitude of entitlement among American children, and I see it already in Brother-Bug. Our family does a couple of consistent things to try and focus our days on gratitude.

*We always say a blessing at dinner, sometime something as short as "May Peace on Earth begin in this family." to take a moment to focus on our good food and sitting together.

*During the meal we each say one or two things we are thankful for from the day. This is a great way for us all to check in about the day with a focus on the positive.

*Frequently (though not as consistently as I'd like) Brother-Bug and I tell each other our Three Best Things from the day as we cuddle at bedtime. While this isn't specifically "thankfuls", a focus on the good and positive from the day gets us pretty close. And it always reminds me of how lucky I am.

It's a blessing, a project, AND a decoration!
*For November we are making a long paper chain. We keep pre-cut strips of fall-colored construction paper in a jar on the table, for anyone to grab in the moment. On each link we write things we ate thankful for, whenever we think of them. At Thanksgiving dinner we will disassemble the chain and read each link. Some of the items on there are wonderfully idiosyncratic and bizarre. In the meantime, it's making a lovely Thanksgiving decoration. I have visions of digging the used and enjoyed paper strips into the Earth of our garden, to let the gratitude bless the dirt that grows our food. We will see about that.

*For myself, I find that saying Thanks to the Universe is an effective way of settling down an overactive imagination. I'm trying to convey this to Brother-Bug by asking him what he loves when he's feeling low. It's hard to remember to do this, but we're trying.

In this culture of excess and gimme-gimme, it's an uphill battle. I want to instill my children with the ability to see how blessed they are, even when things seem really bad. My hope is that this will build these pathways in our brains, making us look to gratitude even if times get truly tough. I want thankfulness and joy to sustain us.

I wonder how other families learn gratitude throughout their days?


  1. I would add learning respect and care for the things that we do have. Whether it be our furniture, our toys or each other respecting and being thankful for the the things we have is important. This is something we work on quite a bit with young children and their violins. They learn how to take care of it, how it is fragile and deserves respect. If we respect it, it will last a long time and give us many hours of beautiful music.

    My bit on our gratitude moments.

    It's a little hard hitting but explains the realm of older kiddos and where they take those little moments of thankfulness and what we as grown-ups can learn from our younger generations.

    You are doing well with your young Buggies. They have amazing parents showing them the love and generosity that exists in this world and in time they will make their choices based on all that you are showing them.
    Love to you and yours this season of Giving Thanks.