Long before mindfulness became the buzz word, there was gratitude. It’s hard to remain grateful and very busy at the same time, one just doesn’t make time for the other.
I have a little note book (In fact I’m on my second little note book) where each day I write down 4 things I loved about yesterday. Four little lines in a tiny notebook. If you ask me what I loved about last week it might be a stretch to remember, but in the morning when my mind is fresh, the things that blessed me yesterday seem to rise to the surface.
What I didn’t realise when I started it was how much joy it would bring me to read back over it. In a perfect world I’d have chronicled my children’s upbringing. Their glorious moments, hurdles they overcame and the little giggles would all be detailed if I’d just got around to it. But my gratitude books bring a smile to my heart, I can almost hear and smell and touch the moments. Here are a few lines from my books:
Noises of a young family waking
Little boy breaths on my pillow
Perseverance at the piano
A friend at the door
Swim up swim down. Quiet
Little feet over the chair’s edge dangling above the floor.
A hopeful dog watching us decorate cakes
Just logging happy thoughts makes you feel grateful. Did you know that we have the power to physically impact our brains by the thoughts we have? Neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf talks about our thoughts occupying mental real estate. She shows pictures from scans of the mind, which is like a forest of trees, there are healthy ones and unhealthy ones..
Gratitude is basically a healthy thought. Moments of appreciation are good for our health and home. As parents we can set the culture in our home: Sharing and chatting with your children about what you feel grateful for will influence them to do the same and develop grateful hearts. It leads to contentedness and generosity. In fact, it will be their greatest antidote to entitlement.
At night when I tuck in my smallest child he lists three things he loved about his day. He says, "It makes me happy in my heart."
Life is busy, it spins! Yesterday I went to the funeral of a friend and was reminded again of the brevity of life and how at the end the achievements pale beside the fond memories of the little moments.
The days of winter are short and the busyness can take over, but taking a moment to be a thankful parent will help us and our children cultivate an attitude of gratitude.