Dennis Prager, a well-known speaker and author, states that “gratitude is the key to happiness.”
Today, I decided to reflect on the meaning of gratitude because of an email I received from a writer, a young woman who lives halfway around the world. After reading some of my stories, we Skyped. The next day I found her email in my inbox.
Choosing to appreciate
“Just a thought before I go to bed. Last night when we spoke, I wrote down ‘the power of appreciation’ in my notebook. I think I did so after you said you choose never to complain about the things that happened to you. In a way, this is something magical. Perhaps your good luck came to you because you chose to appreciate, to be thankful for what you already had and not complain. The universe works that way- it gives more when we stop wanting more.”
I immediately thought of Dennis Praeger’s words, “gratitude is the most important element in happiness.”
Passing along gratitude daily
I am very lucky that each day I feel grateful. I often wonder how I acquired this feeling of deep appreciation. As a child, my parents showered me with love and healthy values, but for the life of me I don’t remember them teaching me to “be grateful.”
I clearly understood after I received the email from the writer, that defining “gratitude” had been plaguing me since I started writing. Not in a bad sense, but in a questioning sense. I could not put my finger on who taught me to be grateful. Something nondescript would occur, something kind someone said, something I noticed that made me feel joy and privately I would think to myself, “How was I so fortunate to learn this feeling of gratitude?”
And as I continued to question over time, it was not until I read and reread her words and thought that I could put my finger on my question.
“I came to the conclusion that feeling gratitude is an attitude. It is a mindset.”
And as I thought deeper about the process of how I came to be so grateful, I recalled my mother buying me stationary when I had just learned to print. Every gift I received, no matter how small, I wrote a thank you note to show my appreciation. I recall my mother teaching me always to say, “thank you,” to show my appreciation. She never told me to be grateful, she instilled this mindset, and I physically felt joyful after I wrote the note or said thank you. My mother could have spoiled me with material possessions. She chose not to take that path, and I learned without her saying, “be grateful”… to be grateful when I received some material possession.
Now that I have finally lived into my answer, I decided to turn my attentions to our grandchildren–yours and mine. I am sorry to say they are the entitled generation and it turns me off.
They are given so much that, in turn, they expect to receive. How can they turn out to be great adults if they expect everything to be handed to them? What can we, their grandparents, do?
Teaching gratitude to grandchildren by example
First, you have to ask yourself, do you feel gratitude? If you do, you know that feeling of joy and happiness. Why not make this a priority and hammer this mindset into your grands?
It has been proven that a grateful person is a happy person, filled with empathy, self-esteem, and optimism. I know you want this for your grands. As do I.
How can they feel gratitude for their opportunities and privileges when it is received through no effort of their own? They get so much stuff from their parents and grandparents that it is easy to understand why they feel entitled.
It is imperative to explain to them that all their creature comforts don’t just pop out of thin air. Teach them to recognize and be grateful that the things they own or the places they travel came from someone else.
Tips for teaching grandchildren to be grateful
1. Ask them to name their blessings.
2. Show them through your actions that you are grateful. Tell them a story.
3. Explain to them why you are grateful.
4. Resist the urge to shower them with material stuff.
5. When they want something, ask them why they need it.
6. Buy them a gift of thank you notes.
7 Teach them to give back and how to act out “It is better to give than receive.’
I tell my grands to see their glasses as half full and to appreciate everything
In the last month, we had two grandsons, Jack and Logan visit. A week after Jack left, I received a hand-written thank you note with a small gift…a little notepad with a pink Eiffel Tower, bejeweled with tiny rhinestones. I know my daughter, Jenny, bought the charming pad and I also know it registered with Jack that he was showing his gratitude to his Honey by taking the time to write a note and say, thank you.
Today, not twenty minutes ago, I opened a note from Logan. He left last week. He used the word gratitude in his note. My daughter-in-law, Jami, taught him well. He also hand painted a portrait of our pooch, Orchid. When he gave it to us, I saw joy overflowing in him.
My musings, today, are also for you, dear readers, who might want to lace your life with more gratitude.
There are many women who shine their light. They smile, they have empathy, and they are secure. They know the marvelous feeling of gratitude. Seek out those women, watch them and listen to them because it is never too late to learn. You will be grateful that you did so.