Rituals of Gratitude
November 21, 2011 ~
From weekly dinners to special holiday traditions, rituals provide a foundation for family identity. Often, these rituals involve an element of gratitude and celebration of family life. Whether it is a daily or yearly practice, taking the time to be thankful offers many benefits by reducing stress and cultivating an optimistic outlook. Here are some ideas to help your family start practicing thankfulness today.
Gratitude at Home
Practicing gratitude daily can be a challenge when schedules get hectic, but when kept consistently, simple habits can turn into meaningful family rituals. Start small. At family dinner, have everyone share one positive thing that happened during the day — one person who made them smile or one thing for which they are thankful.
Daily gratitude is powerful. If you do not get to sit down to family dinner often enough, or if you want to extend the practice, try keeping a gratitude journal and fill it with happy memories, uplifting quotes, peaceful pictures and a list of the things that fill you with happiness. Reflect on this journal whenever you are feeling stressed or downtrodden. Reminding yourself of your successes and joys is a powerful way to lift your spirits and find a renewed sense of hope.
Keeping a gratitude journal is something the whole family can enjoy. Have your children create their own journals and allow them to personalize them. Whenever they write in their journals, not only will they be honing a fundamental skill, but they will be developing a penchant for the positive. Just as in reading, writing and math, practice makes perfect in optimism as well.
Gratitude in the Community
Keeping a journal of gratitude is a great way to reflect on the things we are thankful for in our own lives. However, often the deepest feeling of gratitude can be experienced when helping others. Volunteering is a wonderful way to give back and to gain a deep sense of perspective in your own life. Try incorporating volunteering into everyday life by working once a month at a food bank or shelter. Oftentimes, volunteer opportunities are family-friendly and are an excellent way to introduce your children to the joy and reward of giving back. For more ideas about where to volunteer, visit www.volunteermatch.org.
Giving to others can be more than a yearly practice. Small, daily acts of kindness can have a huge impact, too. Whether it is paying for someone’s coffee, opening a door or helping when you see someone is in need, a little extra kindness can lead to a lot of extra gratitude in the world. For more ideas of how to practice random acts of kindness, check out the story of Robyn Bomar, who decided to complete 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her 38th birthday: http://mixmingleglow.com/blog/?p=1358 . Robyn made an immense difference in her community and in her family, and so can you!