Last week, I posted the top photo above on my Instagram, with the following caption: “Every morning when Essley wakes up, I ask her to tell me one thing for which she’s grateful. She’s like her mama (we don’t enjoy mornings), and I’ve found that starting my day with gratitude (even if I have to force it) genuinely helps me feel less anxious and more happy through out my day – and it seems to help her as well. This morning, her response was ‘my family’ (gold star answer, kid) and ’763 pieces of chocolate’ (clearly my child). Have a grateful day, friends.”
I received over 30 messages after posting that, from both parents and non-parents, thanking me for the idea and stating that they were going to do the same with both their kids and themselves. My response to every message was that while I certainly didn’t come up with the idea of practicing morning gratitude, I was thrilled to see that our silly little morning ritual could possibly help others who have anxiety (like me) or who just wanted to start their days in a positive way. And it got me thinking about other ways my kids and I could practice gratitude together. So Essley and I sat down and came up with a “gratitude to do list”, which I am sharing below.
1. Every morning upon waking, say out loud at least one thing in your life for which you feel thankful.
2. Keep a special journal or sketchbook, and throughout your day, write down or draw pictures of things that you appreciate.
3. Give every family member a hug and tell them how grateful you are to have them in your life.
4. Make a thank you card for a friend and tell them you appreciate their friendship.
5. Say thank you out loud every time you eat a meal.
6. Smile a LOT. (Essley says this one is the most important of all.)
7. Take videos of your little ones telling friends and relatives why they are thankful for them, and then email or text them the videos.
8. Make a giving list. For holidays or birthdays, make lists of the items or experiences you want to give others. (Sort of a reverse wish list.)
9. Everyday, tell each person in your family one thing about them you love and appreciate. (This can be anything from something profound to Essley’s favorite, “I like your outfit mommy!”)
10. Before bed, say out loud one great thing that happened that day for which your are thankful.
Consciously feeling grateful for things in your life is such a simple concept, but it’s been life changing for me in many ways. (Sounds super cheesy I know, but it’s the truth.) And it makes sense – research shows that practicing gratitude causes us to enjoy our lives more and feel happier in general. Even the act of putting this list together made me feel thankful and happy, and I know it did the same for Essley. If you have little ones, try some of these and let me know what you think. And if you have ways you practice daily gratitude with your children (or yourself!) I’d love to hear!