If you’re like me, you want to raise kids who are grateful. And not just one day a year. Cultivating gratitude isn’t easy and it’s not an annual thing. It’s a way of living.
I’ve been thinking about how to cultivate it in my family. How to stir it up in my own heart. How the gift of thankfulness changes everything.
Our favorite book is Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong and we spent several weeks it together last year. It’s the story of an Olympic runner who was a Lost Boy of Sudan. My kids were mesmerized and begged my husband to continue at the end of every chapter. It’s a painful story to hear–so much suffering, but it’s also miraculous and amazing. We are about to start the book again because it has done one thing: it changed our perspective.
It’s hard to complain about dinner or cleaning up dishes when you’ve just read about a 6 year old boy who digs sand out of his handful of grain he gets every other day, as he’s being forced to be a child soldier.
4 Ways to Change Your Family’s Perspective and Spontaneously Create Gratitude:
- Exposure: let your kids see those with less–take them on a missions trip, even if it’s to the nearest nursing home or homeless spot under the bridge. Take blankets and food and share them. Sometimes we are reminded how much we have, by simply seeing how little others have. It’s powerful.
- Service: There’s just something extraordinary that happens when we serve others. Not only can everyone serve, everyone needs to. It’s the key to unlocking fullness in life.
- Work: Complaining is the opposite of thanking. When my kids are griping about things in their life, it’s often best to combat it by turning the tables and letting them try a hand at hard work (laundry, making dinner, cleaning, etc). It immediately changes their perspective because it’s often not as easy as it looks!
- Introduction: Read books to your kids about different cultures. It easy to live in a safe, abundant bubble. Step out of it through reading and stir up gratitude. Here are some books that will do just that (that are family-friendly) are Running for My Life, Kisses from Katie and The Hiding Place.
Gratitude is a way of life. Thankfulness is stopping long enough to say it or show it and making sure we pause in our busy day to receive it. In our abundance, being thankful is an act of beauty and acknowledging and appreciating the gifts in our lives makes us want to give them away.