Cultivating Gratitude: The Inner Work Of Advent

There is a lot of buzz these days around the word gratitude.  Gratitude journals, counting things to be thankful for, making lists of things we are grateful for before meals, an Attitude of Gratitude,  have all been popularized.

Gratitude is an important piece of this time of year, and a work for exploring the inner soul of Advent.  As a Christian at this time of year, I have gratitude for  a Creator who  experienced  life as a mere man.  He is always accessible and ever-present within me, as He has walked this path and experienced the heart ache, the challenges, the temptation, the joy and the sadness of being human.  Such openness and intimacy in that relationship.

John F. Kennedy reportedly said this:  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

How often do we fail to live up to that highest challenge?  How often do we complain to our girlfriends about what our husbands don’t do?  About the challenging spots our children are in developmentally?  About the never-ending chores of maintaining a home?  The never-ending planning for homeschooling and the actual hours spent in lessons, sometimes with children who seem far from appreciative?

How can we live in gratitude?  If we can model this, then our children will surely imitate what is in our hearts.  Our home will have a different tone as we do this. 

To me the key is this:  if I can radiate a positive attitude within  myself  no matter what the circumstance, then I am expressing gratitude.

A mother within Melisa Nielsen’s “Be A Beacon” program had a wonderful idea regarding stopping negativity. She said one thing to consider would be to wear a bracelet, rubber band, etc on your wrist and if you had a negative thought, just take it off and switch it to the other wrist.  No judging, just move the bracelet. The goal, of course, would be to see how many minutes, hours or days one could keep the bracelet on the original wrist.

Back to JJFK’s statement!  This week, can you show your family how much you appreciate them?  Even better if you can do this with joyous action, not only  words.  Show your spouse how much you love and respect them.   Show your children your respect and love for them.  Enjoy cleaning your home and making it nice for your family!  By taking care of the people, pets and things that we love, we are showing our gratitude that they are in our lives.

Is there someone that helps bring back the spark within you after it has been extinguished?  Your spouse, for certain, but perhaps also a close friend?  Does that person know that?  It is never to late to tell them! 

With your children, can you start to cultivate gratitude in them?  An excellent start is by modeling a positive attitude and taking care of your family and  environment in a joyful manner.  Then, can you reach out to help others in your neighborhood, within your circle of friends or within your community?  This helps to build gratitude and appreciate for what gifts we have and can use to help others.  Every day, bit by bit, year by year, we build our children’s hearts.  Let us be thankful for the opportunity!

Many blessings,

Carrie

PS – Please see Melisa Nielsen’s excellent comment below!  It is not too late to join her program if you are interested!!

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11 thoughts on “Cultivating Gratitude: The Inner Work Of Advent

  1. This is a great post. I love the themes of inner work that come to the surface this time of the year – I am really looking forward to pondering them for myself and working with our group too. One thing that really strikes me this time of the year with regards to gratitude is the question “how can I magnify this call to have even more gratitude?” I am a pretty gracious person much of the time but now and then I feel like a HUGE grumbler! I find myself wondering… “is this how I would want my children to talk about XYZ?” Those are words that stop me in my tracks because it makes ponder how I must sound to our Creator! Love this topic!!

    Many blessings to you all! Melisa Nielsen

    • Thanks Melisa!! I love your “Be A Beacon” program!! You have so many inspiring things to say – thank you for filling my cup!

  2. What a great reminder, Carrie! I am pretty good at showing my love and appreciation, but it doesn’t make me better at not complaining, not being negative… A great focus for this Advent period! Thanks!

  3. I am working on this so so very much. I am very aware of my blessings as a wife and mama, yet I still find it hard to keep up the joy. I am grateful for this opportunity to mother two children and to be a wife to a wonderful man. I think my difficulty is that mothering has completely changed my plans for my life that I have had since my own childhood… or at least the time-tables for it. Especially since I have made the decision to homeschool. Maybe it is selfishness on my part and pressure that I put on myself to be a mother and something else too (in this case a writer). I want to find all the joy I need in being a mama and keeping a home. I do want that so very much. I am thankful for it.

    • Kelli,
      It can often take time and inner work to get to the spot where we feel sincerely and truly joy filled being home. Society, and perhaps we were raised this way, to think of having a career and work outside the home and maybe not as much preparation went into our role as homemakers where we were growing up. Waldorf requires a kind of spiritual homemaking that can be difficult to attain at first…Keep working and meditationg on it, and how nice to see you here.

  4. Pingback: The Inner Work of Advent « The Parenting Passageway

  5. wow…i grew up in a home where the attitude was “we can’t afford it, there’s never enough!” (there always miraculously was) that is still the mantra and in times of stress it comes back to me…I grumble. pick at my husband…it makes me sad, really. Shifting my focus is so so good but almost feels unrealistic. I need to cultivate more joy.

  6. quailsinthebushes, I have worked and worked for years at just cultivating joy and found it was really hard until I could really look at all virtues. At the heart of gratitude is humility, learning to live in humility allows us to open to all things that we previously couldn’t see.

    I too remember growing up in that same attitude of “there isn’t enough” – very often there really wasn’t enough, my mom was single and worked two jobs to get by. As an adult I had to forgive my past and take charge of my adult self and realize that I am not my past. Counting each blessing, no matter how small is so helpful as a start – it does feel like a lie for a while, but sometimes you have to fake it until you make it.

    Keep it up! Blessings.

  7. Pingback: The Second and Third Nights of Christmas: Sacrifice and Generosity « The Parenting Passageway

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