Practicing gratitude creates a positive mindset, which can lead to increased self-esteem, compassion for others, and overall happiness. These can lead kids to have a better attitude towards school and their families, as well as reduced stress and a better sense of self. How can parents and care takers generate more frequent consciousness gratitude practices?
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Steve: 00:33 Developing gratitude. The research on gratitude suggests just a countless list of benefits that one can gain from practicing increased gratitude. Just to name a few, people have an increased sense of happiness and positive mood. They have more satisfaction with life, they’re less materialistic, less likely to experience burnout and have better physical health. One of the researchers in the area of happiness and gratitude is Dr. Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the university of Pennsylvania. In his study, when participants were asked to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibit a huge increase in their happiness scores and this impact was greater than any of the other interventions he tested with benefits lasting for over a month. I’m just going to play a short 32 second response here for you that Dr. Seligman gave to a question about the role of gratitude.
Steve: 02:05 How much of a role in all of this does gratitude play in a person’s happiness?
Steve: 02:10 Yes. Well, gratitude is a very powerful thing. And when we look at people’s strengths and when we correlate different strengths with happiness, gratitude, kindness, prudence, self-control, the single strength that correlates the most with happiness is gratitude. Grateful people are naturally happy.
Steve: 02:36 A positive mindset is one of the benefits from practicing gratitude. That mindset is likely to build increased self-esteem, compassion for others and overall happiness. All of those things lead kids to have a better attitude towards families, as well as reduced stress and a better sense of self. Gratitude also helps children appreciate what they already have. It creates a decrease in envy and less comparison of oneself to other people. I found a suggestion to consider a four step process to building kid’s gratitude and the steps were identified as notice, think feel, and action. Notice was identifying what we have to be grateful for. One of the recommendations for that step is called savoring. It’s kind of like stop and smell the roses, realize the beautiful things around you. Realize the things that you feel thankful for and label them consciously. A big step that you might take is sharing your savoring in front of your kids.
Steve: 04:10 Let them know when you get that sense of the beauty of nature or the appreciation of a kind to act from another person. The next two steps were thinking and feeling. So thinking is kind of identifying why is it that I have this sense of gratitude. Why is it that I appreciate the beauty or the kindness of what’s happened around me and then identifying the feeling that that it generates with what it is that I’ve received. What it is that is there as a a gift for me sometimes and often without any request on my part. And then that fourth step is taking action in some way, responding because of the gratitude. As parents, we’re probably big on identifying, especially to younger children when they should say thank you and to our older youngsters, when they should be writing that a thank you note or or email.
Steve: 05:27 It’s good to stop and back up and have them consider that thank you, that gratitude is less of a requirement and more of an indication of appreciation. I found several websites that offer strategies for engaging our kids in an appreciation and gratitude, and I’ll post them in the lead-in to this blog, along with the link to the interview with Martin Seligman. Let me just share a few of them here to to get you thinking. Consider taking a gratitude walk. What is there around your neighborhood or on a nearby hiking trail that allows that opportunity to stop and take in that natural beauty that often is a surprise as the colors of the tree are expressed through the sunlight on them and share out loud with with your kids, that sense of appreciation that you have and encourage them to spot and, and highlight one to you.
Steve: 07:04 Their’s might be the salamander that they found on a stone. Consider writing some thank you notes together. It would give you that great opportunity to to think out loud about what it is you noticed, what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, as well as taking the action on the note itself. Many of the researchers looking at gratitude and happiness are recommending that people consider keeping a gratitude journal. That might be an interesting activity to do as a family. Maybe if it’s just once a week having a set time where you pull the journal and different members of your family share those gratitude moments from this previous week. Taking part in a community service project as a family or identifying a person in need and responding to that need as a family and then sharing the the sense of gratitude that comes from that opportunity to give and provide for others.
Steve: 08:27 Some of the important modeling is that opportunity to do your thinking, your sharing of gratitude out loud with your children. I’m sure it most often occurs as an inside voice that may lead you to action. A great opportunity to model if you can share with your children, the thinking and feeling and noticing process that preceded your actions of gratitude. Here’s a quote from one of the blog posts that I’ll share with you. The post is titled, How to Teach Kids to be Grateful.” They conclude with this comment: “gratitude is a skill. An attitude of gratitude is a positive way of looking at life. Gratitude can increase our children’s happiness, teach them to be more empathetic and help them to be more thankful for everything they have. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share some of my thinking and thoughts with you. It drives me to do some research and increases my learning. Thank you for listening.
Steve [Outro]: 09:50 Thanks for listening in folks. I’d love to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.