“I’m thankful for telling jokes to Jennifer and both of us laughing so hard.”
“That’s number three,” I say, folding down my finger. “Two more.”
My daughter purses her lips, thinking. “I’m thankful that my presentation went well in class today. Oh—and that you and dad were there to watch it.” She grabs her stuffed snow leopard tucks him under the sheet next to her. Then she glances at her brother. “Your turn.”
This is our nightly ritual. Tucked between story time and good night kisses, I say a prayer with my children and then listen to them list their five moments of happiness. Why?
- Gratitude is the attribute most reflective of a positive mental attitude.
- Thinking positively is one of the best tools in the life toolbox.
I teach gratitude to my kids because I love them and want them to succeed. Simultaneously, I reaffirm my habit of thankfulness. It’s a win/win situation.
It takes mental disciple to have a positive outlook. The bad stuff clamors for our attention, weighing us down, zapping our energy. On the other hand, moments of peace and beauty often slip by unnoticed. When my family knows that we’ll be listing five of those positive moments at night, we look for them. We hold on to them. We lighten our daily load of the bad stuff.
I’ve noticed this in myself. A few weeks ago I was running some errands downtown when I met a nice German man walking an Irish Setter. The dog sat on command and gave me an amiable shake of his paw and a doggy smile. It made me laugh, and I wanted to remember to share that moment with my kids. I reminded myself of the incident several times during the day—the man’s accent, the dog’s shiny fur and funny smile. Every time I remembered, it lightened my mood.
If I teach my children to remember their unimportant moments—just five of them every day—they will be more likely to have a positive outlook into their adult years. Along the way, I’ve also trained myself to look for and honor those moments.
I’m a stress dreamer. Lately I’ve been anxious about appearing on yet another true crime show (this pertains to my life outside of this blog); those worries manifested themselves in a dream where I had to shop for a funeral outfit but kept maneuvering toward sparkly evening wear, only to be dragged back to the “Somber Misses” section by invisible dressing attendants. The dream wasn’t exactly haunting. In fact, parts of it were pretty funny (especially the musical number by the dressing room drag queen). Still, if I had quieted my mind the night before by concentrating on gratitude, I feel certain I would have awakened more refreshed. And without that darned song stuck in my head.
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