Practicing Gratitude

Every day should be a day of thanksgiving. Count your many blessings. Be thankful for what you have.

I hear all of these sayings and agree with them. Then I feel guilty.

I don't practice gratitude every day. Some days it's hard to see how much there is to be thankful for. There's always something that sucks about my house or my bank account or my clothes or my body or the behavior of my children. Other kids don't act this way, other moms do this or that, other people have more money and nicer homes. Neater homes. (You know, good ol' fashioned beating up on yourself. Always productive.)

So it's no surprise that I am starting to see this behavior in my children. Of course, they're children. They get a toy and are already asking when they'll get the next one. When your kid asks when we're getting a new house because ours isn't good. Wow, how incredibly frustrating that is as a parent, but we do it ourselves. Why are we surprised when children can't control their desires when we as adults have problems with it too?

I noticed the problem creeping into our home at the beginning of 2014 and we started a "thankful jar". A mason jar and a small pad of paper sit on the dining room table, and we go around each night and say what we are thankful for. I write the date at the top of the page and record everyone's response.

The idea is to review them with my Mr. some night at the end of the year, when the kids are asleep and we have time to just be. To reflect and be thankful. It's just as important an exercise for the children as it is for the adults. Even when it's been a tough day, I can find lots to be thankful for. We haven't done it every day, and even missed a few weeks here and there, but it's been consistent enough that the kids know and ask about the "thank you" jar.

Like many of my Facebook friends, I've been posting daily what I'm thankful for during the month of November. It's a good exercise and one that I think should be year-round. Maybe I need a gratitude journal.

Today I am thankful for all that I have and all that I am. We're all works in progress.

How do you practice gratitude? How do you teach it to your children?

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