Neale Donald Walsch said recently, "A master lives in gratitude at every moment." How can we lead our children to find their own, meaningful experience of a life of gratitude?
In the US, the month of November is often a time to reflect on one's good fortune. As we approach Thanksgiving, social media is inundated with "30 days of thankfulness" posts while many renew their attention to charitable giving and volunteering as an outpouring of their gratitude. These phenomena are demonstrations of one of the core concepts of Conversations with God, "There is Enough," which teaches that the world is an abundant place in which every person can get what they need and that scarcity only exists as we – collectively – allow it to persist. Feeling this way in November is a great step toward a thankful life, but what about feeling gratitude during the other months of the year?
In a society which is centered on external factors of happiness: acquiring more material things, improving physical appearances, and glorifying competition it can be difficult to instill a constant and unshakeable sense of inner completeness in your family's hearts and minds. However, when approaching life through your spirituality, you learn that you only need to stop looking out and start searching within to find fulfillment. In fact, the root of all happiness is gratitude. Being grateful helps us to see everything more positively; even the aspects of our lives we wish to change. Encouraging children to embrace and embody gratitude assists them in their spiritual development as well as their view of the world around them.
Children learn by example. One way to demonstrate your own gratitude is to, as they say, find the silver lining in negative situations, and share those sentiments with your children. Another way is to share your abundance with others by donating time, resources, or just a kind word to another; giving of yourself to another person helps you appreciate your own gifts and blessings. A daily practice of gratitude allows it to permeate your thoughts more fully, becoming an integral part of your Be-ing. To this end, children, whether school-aged or even younger, can contribute to your family's daily gratitude journal by drawing pictures, writing words or even verbally expressing gratitude (for you to write for them).
hatever way you choose to bring an awareness, and practice, of gratitude into your home will bring you closer together. I believe you will find that it takes the edge off of a rough day, endears you to each other and easily becomes a large part of your dialogue and vocabulary…allowing you, and your children, to live in gratitude at every moment.
Originally printed on The Global Conversation Online Newspaper, (2012). All Rights Reserved.