Raising a Grateful Family
Years ago our family started a tradition where every Friday night we went around the table giving each person a chance to say what they are grateful for or what they a happy moment they remembered. Each time someone speaks a bell is rung before the next person goes as a way to allow the gratitude the person had just said to linger a bit longer. Science continues to support the fact that integrating a gratitude practice into the family fundamental for health and well-being.
An article came out in the Wall Street Journal giving an overview of some of the research pointing to the science behind gratitude as a source of resiliency and well-being for kids. It seems to make sense that when you make a gratitude practice part of the family, you plant seeds in the children’s minds that this is something that is a part of life. It may not always turn out perfectly or the way we want to it to around the dinner table, but we’re in the business of planting seeds not perfection.
Robert Emmons and Michael McCollough (2003) conducted a study a while back called Counting Blessings versus Burdens . He split up a few groups of people and had one group count 5 blessings per day, one group count 5 burdens per day and one group just write about neutral events. As you may have guessed, the ones who counted blessings, experienced less stress and more feelings associated with well being.
If we want this for our kids or our family, it starts with us. Our kids are sponges for information of how the world works and in many of those moments we think we’re not being watched or tuned into, we are.
Make it an aspiration this year to being more aware of gratitude.
The science is clear, it’s good for us. This isn’t to negate the difficulties in life or just put on rose colored glasses. It’s more to balance out the automatic negativity bias that most of our brains are wired for.
This is an evolutionary impulse to open our eyes to the good in life.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.