How do you explain the happiness that comes from saying Thank you. From ‘feeling’ grateful.
No, I don’t mean the prodding, ‘Say thank you to aunty’ that many parents insist on as part of ‘manners’.
No, I talk about the joy you feel right down to your fingers… the unexplainable happiness of feeling grateful for something.
Of course, it’s not always a fizzy feeling like when somebody gives you a big loving hug, or a flooding of mad emotion when you win a trip to Italy, win an award. Sometimes it’s like butterfly wings - a quiet whisper in a church pew, or at the rain, or just the thankful sigh for feeling the baby in your arms breathing softly, gently, trusting you with her life.
How do we teach this to our kids? True gratefulness.
A recognizing of how wonderful it is what you just got, or have.
One little mom did a little experiment with the help of her little son. She bandaged his thumb down to his palm for half a day, with his consent of course. Fumbling around funnily, he learned how important every part of his body is… and gives me a lecture on it every time I visit.
Another takes her little girl to the orphanage. Yet another family I know, say ‘grace’. Not the ‘learn-by-rote’ ‘Bless us O lord’ prayer, but a tasting of the food and thanking for the farmer who planted those seeds, the rain, earth, the person who cooked it, the deep deliciousness of it…. Imagine no tastebuds.. Thank you tastebuds, for being there. J (Yes, being grateful for food can also bring you to mindfulness and be a meditation.)
And yet another, uses gratefulness to lift her children’s spirits. When they’re sad, she helps them remember all the things they could give thanks for. Things that made them happy: The goal they scored on the school ground, the dragonfly they saw, the kind teacher (versus the stern teacher), the little tree sitting on the window sill and flowering when it feels like, the chocolate they ate.
But the most important way to teach Them the joy of gratitude, is learning to show gratitude Ourselves. Stopping to notice the littlest things that life has blessed us with.
A friend taught me a Gratitude ‘prayer’ to do at night. Before you slip into slumberland, give thanks for all that you have, or all that made you happy in the day. Or, and if you can, all that made you sad, angry, fearful, and all the lessons that will come from it.
Encourage your little daughter or son to learn it. Let them choose what they’d like to give thanks for. You’ll b surprised. Besides the loving thank you for daddy and mommy…I’ve heard thank yous for ‘for the balloon that went high to meet the sky, the sound that cornflakes make... and Bruno, the neighborhood labrador.’. And yes, also, ‘thank you for cancelling the test.’
When we do this, we learn to appreciate more in our lives. The seemingly ordinary things are shown for the precious things they are. And life becomes a lot more luminous.
Oh, and yes, one wise person also told me, that the more grateful you are for something, you automatically invite more of it into your life.
I know for sure that many parents are going to give thanks for sleep. I just know it. :)
Thank you all for reading. And for all the support and love. From my heart.
Check out what Hailey created. The 365grateful project is inspiring. See how it can lift you.http://365grateful.com/original-365-project