What are you grateful for today?
Take a moment, pause, close your eyes, and think of something starting with the letter ‘A’ that you are thankful for. When we practice gratitude in a deliberate way, we are often surprised at the things that come up… Maybe you thought of “Apples”, “Airplanes”, or “Art” and for a moment you felt appreciation for these things. This exercise shows us what studies have supported for years now – we can increase our feeling of gratitude by paying attention to and appreciating the things we have in life.
Grateful people are happy people
Studies have shown that increased feelings of gratitude have been associated with:
- more positive mood
- greater social support
- more generosity
- better quality relationships
- lower symptoms of depression and anxiety and
- better physical health
Importantly, studies have shown that it is not just happy people who feel grateful, but that we can increase our happiness by engaging in an active gratitude practice. This does not mean that we ignore or push away our struggles – it means that we are choosing to direct our attention to the things that are going well, even if only for a brief moment in our day.
Gratitude can be practiced in many ways. We have put together some specific examples of how you can practice gratitude on your own as well as with your whole family.
Practicing gratitude on your own
Simple gratitude practices you can do on your own include:
- Keeping a gratitude journal where you list three things you were grateful for that day. This can be as simple as: “Coffee. Dogs. Sunshine.” Maybe challenge yourself to come up with three new things you feel grateful for every day for a month or use some of the prompts we list at the end of this blog.
- Writing a gratitude letter/email to someone. This could be someone from your present or past who you feel you have never properly thanked. You can choose whether you want to send it or not!
- Send someone a simple gratitude text or card.
Practicing gratitude as a family
We can also practice gratitude as a family using activities that children of all ages would enjoy. If you have a child who likes to read, you could read this article with them to help them understand the benefits of a gratitude practice even better.
Young children may enjoy practicing gratitude in a playful way, by creating arts and crafts.
Gratitude Flower: Why not create a gratitude flower bouquet where each member of the family creates one gratitude flower using this or a similar template. This is how it works:
- Each petal of the flower represents something different to be grateful for
- Every family member can create their own gratitude flower
- The different flowers can be glued together on a piece of cardboard to form a family “gratitude bouquet.”
- This would be a fun art activity to repeat every year to keep track of what kind of things every member of the family was grateful for over the years.
Gratitude Tree: Another similar gratitude practice is to create a “family gratitude tree”. This template walks you through it :
- Collect a tree branch on a family walk (or cut one out of cardboard).
- Cut out fall leaves using the template above (or collect real leaves!), write down different things you are grateful for and either glue them or hang them on the tree.
- The tree branch can be placed in an empty vase to be displayed
Practicing gratitude with teenagers
If you have teenage children, you may be wondering how you could involve them in a gratitude practice. While it may be more difficult to engage adolescents in practicing gratitude as a family, studies have shown that they benefit the same as adults.
Take pictures: Teenagers may enjoy taking a picture of something they are grateful for each day and to share those in a family text messaging group. This also works well if you have family members who live far away, including grandparents or an older child who has moved away or is at college.
What else are you grateful for?
Practicing gratitude can be more effective when we try to find new things we are grateful for. The more we practice finding new things to be grateful for, the more our brain starts to scan our world for positive things.
Each of the gratitude practices above can be changed to include a specific prompt. For example:
- for the gratitude flower activity, each family member could create a gratitude flower with at least one thing starting with the first letter of their name
- for the gratitude tree activity, each family member might come up with at least one thing they are grateful for in nature.
These prompts can also be used when practicing gratitude around the dinner table or at bedtime. You could take turns in your family for each person to come up with one prompt for each day of the week.
Examples for prompts
- Something funny that made you laugh
- Something starting with the letter X
- Something that is red/blue/one thing for every color of the rainbow
- Something that is round/square
- A book or TV show you enjoy
- A person who is in your life who you are grateful for
- A happy memory
- An animal you like
- A type of food you enjoy and are thankful you get to eat
- Something about nature that you enjoy
- What else can you come up with?
We hope that these suggestions can be helpful in starting new gratitude practices, and maybe developing some of your own family gratitude traditions!Proper Citation for this blog post:
Alkozei, A. (November 11, 2022). Making gratitude fun for the whole family. https://infoaboutkids.org/blog/making-gratitude-fun-for-the-whole-family