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