I’m not going to complain today, I thought to myself. Within minutes, I had already broken this promise. I definitely did not have an attitude of gratitude. So I set out to fix this. I thought about the many things for which I should be grateful. I had my family and my health. What else did I have? My husband had a job and we had one running car out of three, which is better than some folks. We had food in the cupboards and my children were in school. I had many reasons to be grateful.
I wanted to share this attitude with others and teach my children to show gratitude in their attitudes. When a commercial on television causes my child to want “that” toy, I tell her to be grateful for the toys she has. My daughter thought about this and decided to share some of her things with friends. This began a new attitude of gratitude in our home.
I teach our children that they should not focus on what we do not have, but on what we do have. It is fine to say, “I want one of those for my birthday”, but it’s not alright for them to tell me they “must have” the latest gadget “or else”. “Or else what,” I wonder. I suspect it is, “or else they won’t have it.” I can live with that just fine.
In this day and age, people have interesting ideas about finding contentment through things. Our forefathers were fine without televisions or the latest vehicles with G.P.S. devices. Do we really need all of these “bells and whistles?”
By being satisfied with what we have we are already beginning to show an attitude of gratitude. It is not just a matter of offering a “thank you” to friends and family, it is the way we look at life in general.
When washing dishes, we should be grateful we have food to eat. When doing laundry, we should be grateful we have clothing (and a washer). When cleaning house, we should be grateful we have a roof over our heads. When doing car repairs, I am thankful that we have a car. When my children are underfoot on vacation, I am very thankful that I have each of them. I hope that my attitude shows them what a blessing they are to me.
By complaining less and focusing more on the positive side of life, I am showing my attitude of gratitude and sharing it with others. My life is full and I am enriched by this experience. I am blessed beyond what money can offer me in any way, shape or form. So now, when I am tempted to complain about the heating bill, I remind myself that my family was warm all winter.
To nurture gratitude attitudes, our family has many gratitude rituals we practice daily. At each meal, we hold hands in a circle and sing a little prayer song my daughter made up. We tell each other “Thank you” when we help one another. We look for ways to show how much we appreciate others and often say, “I am thankful for you” because of a specific quality we see in them.
We send out thank you notes or e-mails to recognize gifts or acts of kindness. It is fun to send a surprise e-card to let someone know how much we appreciate them. Once you start thinking this way it is amazing how many times a day you have a chance to say, “thank you.”
In practising an attitude of gratitude I have found a new lifestyle which I am passing on to my children. This life of gratitude and simplicity has less stress and more meaning. Life will always have its ups and downs. Things will not necessarily go smoothly just because I am thankful, but by changing my attitude and looking to the brighter side of things, I can express my gratitude and share it with others. This enriches all of our lives and helps us to remember that it’s the little things in life that count.