I was thinking about gratitude the other day in this month of thankgiving…and I was thinking how often, we think in our head that we KNOW we should be grateful, that we should be full of gratitude…but in our hearts we still feel this discontent; that things could be different; things could be better; things could be more perfect. Have you ever felt that way? And Steiner talks about gratitude, love, and duty. I thought this blog post did a wonderful job talking about this topic. It has been on my mind a lot.
Gratitude is a way to look at the world. How do we nurture this in ourselves and in our children? I think in order to model this for our children, we need two things. The first thing is to find our own contentment and the second thing is to find our sense of wonder.
I find if I can say, “This will somehow all work out for good,” or “I am exactly where I need to be,” or “I am thankful even though this didn’t work out the way I wanted it to,” the more my contentment grows and the more thankful I feel. The less I complain and find joy in the ordinary moments, in telling the people around me how much I love them and how I appreciate them, the more my gratitude grows. Especially for small children, this modeling is what they see and need.
The second thing we need is our sense of wonder. We often talk about this for tiny children, but I think our older children and teens also desperately need this. However, in order to have a sense of wonder, we must not be rushed. We need unhurried time and space in order to mark the sunset, the appearance of the stars, the whiskers of our furry friends, to see the strange bud of the sunflower blooming right now, in November, in my yard. Gratitude occurs in these ordinary moments and cannot be scripted.
I think with older children, we can speak more directly about the pitfalls of never being content because contendness goes with gratitude. To say that we are thankful “but” is not being thankful with our whole hearts. We can look at books that have gratitude as a theme. We can say what we are grateful for that happened during the day whether at night before bed or around the dinner table. We can talk about how we can dial back our “wants” for material goods and instead foster volunteerism. We can still model. We can do with love for each other in our own families because that generosity toward others begins right at home. And we can be persistent. Volunteer, wonder, and have gratitude together.
I would love to hear about your traditions for fostering gratitude and love in this month of November.