Life can be hard, but truly we have so many opportunities, great and minor, to be thankful each day. I am such a planner and that I am often looking at the next thing on my “to-do” list rather than stopping to appreciate how far we have come, and while this dreaming and scheming helps us accomplish a lot, it sometimes feels like we have so much still left to do, we never get to year 5 of the 5 year plan because it becomes year 1 of the next 5 years!
To help the family stop and give thanks we have two small practices, we use them sporadically but I have come to really love them.
First, with the kids we have a small journal we use for “Gratitude.” We go around the table and each tell something we are thankful for, and I write them down. John almost always mentions his latest favorite toy of the moment. It interests me that Peter names the authors of the books he reads, not the books themselves. The girls may come up with a person, and Leo always, always says the food that we are eating at that moment. We have fun doing this and I really like having the journal to look back on, when they are older it will be very funny to see what they were most grateful for at age 5.
Second, for my marriage, even though we are not really sentimental in general, we try to send emails with the subject line “it’s great” and then say something positive.
For example, it’s great that the super cheap pool company I found actually showed up and closed the pool, the price was so good that I had my doubts! It’s great that the service men at this small business were super child-friendly. It’s great to watch the kids gather around the window as the pipes are blown out, exclaiming over the geysers.
On a really bad day, looking for one good thing can help us to keep on moving forward.
Lastly, my husband’s mother used to wear a pin to work every day with the word “Attitude” in gold letters. The pin only had one stick on the back — pins with words usually have two, so that they stay straight once they are pinned on — so that from time to time you had to “adjust your attitude.” This is a phrase that we use with the children, but sometimes I need it more than them! These small practices help me to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for my abundant blessings.