The Gift of Practicing Gratitude

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It can be an easy thing to say: “Be thankful”.

We are often trying to get our kids to express outward gratitude. It’s the polite thing to do.

But what if genuine, heartfelt gratitude is more than just a polite duty? What if it is really good for our mental health? And what if modeling such an attitude could be incredibly beneficial to our kids’ overall mental health?

Well, it turns out that is exactly the case. Researchers are now telling us that consistent (think practice) expressions of gratitude help our brains to notice MORE things to feel thankful about. This makes sense based on what we know about the brain. We know that our brains take in massive amounts of information via our senses (too much to process) and MUST filter out lots of less-important information.

That means that when we make efforts to focus on certain things (this is why I use sticky notes), our brains will NOTICE those things more! In Love and Logic, we say that one of the things we can always control is what we notice more or pay more attention to. We may not be able to control events but we can make an effort to control our attitude toward those events (victim vs. victor).

I recently heard that researchers have zeroed in on data emphasizing the other side of this coin. When we continuously notice and complain about the things which cause us discontent, we re-wire our brains to notice more of those things. And to feel worse about them.

Does that seem oversimplified? Gratitude helps wire our brains to notice more things to feel thankful about and feel better – complaining helps wire our brains to notice more things to complain about – and feel worse.

How much of this is conveyed nonverbally? How much of this is ‘caught’ rather than ‘taught’? How impactful will it be if we are intentional about gratitude? How will affect our kids if they regularly (not just one day per year) hear/witness us intentionally noticing our many blessings and expressing sincere thankfulness for them?

I encourage you to experiment and find out. We would love to learn about your results!

Please know that we are so grateful for you! We cannot thank you enough for sharing and recommending Love and Logic!

 

Jedd Hafer