The time of year that is set aside for a few moments to focus on what we are grateful for in our lives. As most of us know there are days when it is really easy to see what we are thankful for and other days we are too overwhelmed to go there. When I was younger there were years when getting together with family to eat and drink and talk felt like a chore or dare I say a punishment (I totally failed to see the bigger picture!). However, now that I have children thanksgiving has become one of my favourite times of year. I have realised just how precious this time together really is and how important reflecting on what we are grateful for also is! Tons of research in positive psychology points to the profound effects that taking some time to focus our attention on what makes us thankful. In the movie "happy" they talk about a study done on 1500 university students in a positive psychology course half the class once a week took a few moments to focus on 5 things that they were grateful for. The other half of the class continued with their regular course work. After just 3 weeks the the group who were doing gratitude work reported a marked increase in happiness. It makes sense when we feel thankful for something it makes us feel good! After reading Eat, Pray, Love I fell in love with the idea of a gratitude circle. She talks about doing this with some of her friends in her book. I have started to do this with my children on weekly basis if not more to get them to stop for a moment to connect with their own gratitude. They love it now but I am sure at some point this might become annoying to them but I don't care because I think it is such an important foundational and life skill to have. I feel ridiculously passionate about this and had to stop for a moment to connect with why? Then I remembered I had been taught the lesson of seeing gratitude even in the strangest places by one of the most precious people in my life. My Mother. Even after her death she managed to portray the message of how important it is to be thankful. She asked that her funeral be done as a thanksgiving day service. I never really paid any attention to this until recently and it now means a lot to me. I think as parents sometimes we don't really know why we are doing the things we are such as making our kids see what they are grateful for. Right now they might only be talking about toys, crayons, video games the colour blue, who knows. We might get some resistance, the occasional eye roll or "really Mom or Dad". But taking the time teach our kids and ourselves to see how much we do have to be grateful for is opportunity to shape perspective and a definite increase in the ability to be happy.
It certainly has helped me!
My Mom Lucille.
Be Happy, Be Healthy, Mieka : )