Families | Growing Gratitude

How to Plant Seeds That Produce Real Thankfulness


 Within the last several years, I’ve noticed a dramatic surge in all things “natural.”  Have you?

 

We eat at “farm-to-table” restaurants, we spend time on DIY projects, and we spend more money on “non-GMO” products.  We shop organic, drive electronic and buy local.  

 

There seems to be a strong resistance to all things processed and manufactured and packaged. And personally, I have both feet planted in the natural camp.  I think most everything in life is healthier, more sustainable and far more rewarding when made by hand or given the time, space and care to grow.

 

I also believe that the same principles and perspectives apply to the parts of our lives that are not tangible:  our values, personalities, character and dreams.  When I work with families, I often hear parents describe the ways they long for their children to be, and oftentimes that includes being more grateful.

 

But gratitude isn’t a product to be manufactured; forced thankfulness doesn’t do justice to the giver or the receiver.  Gratitude must be grown.  True appreciation develops over time and becomes a way of life, not only a response after getting a birthday present or a trip to Disneyland.

 

I think of a few seeds that families could plant, that often grow into real gratitude:

 

Empathy:  can you have conversations as a family about how different people feel at different times?  About how our actions impact others?  About how the lives we lead are far different than those of others?

 

Celebration: as a family, could you build in regular times of celebration that go beyond the usual birthdays or holidays? Someone achieving a goal that was a long-time coming, someone doing something brave, someone making a hard decision, etc.

 

Structure + Discipline:  can your children learn how to say no to some things so they can say yes to others?  To have to wait and endure something challenging to feel grateful when it’s over?

 

True, genuine gratitude is a way of life – a posture of approaching life with humility and openness, so that when you receive all that life has to offer, the fruit is appreciation.

 

In this with you,

Alair

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Alair Olson, M.A.

 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

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South Mission Valley | San Diego, CA  92108

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