Living a Grateful Life

Celebrating Thanksgiving
By Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

In our journey to Thanksgiving we’ve been discussing how to teach kid to be grateful. Here are some suggestions from

How can we give thanks every day?
Keep “gratitude journals;” set aside time for family prayer; try to be more physically affectionate with one another; make an effort to express your appreciation and encouragement (the dinner table is the perfect place to do this). Giving your thanks daily establishes gratitude as a priority in your family.

What do we take for granted that we might express thanks for every day?
We all need to open our eyes and appreciate our daily gifts: food, shelter, clothing, good health, friendship, the beauty of nature, and the kindness of others. Talking about ways to increase our awareness of these daily blessings is productive.

Is doing for others a way of expressing gratitude?
Discuss how helping others is gratitude in action. You might not only prepare and/or help serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter, but also talk about how your family can make a commitment of time and service to this shelter on a regular basis. Expressing thanks by actively helping others in an ongoing way can be one of your family’s “gratitude goals.”

What attributes do you possess that you are thankful for?
This self-examination encourages self-gratitude, helping us pause to appreciate our skills, talents, and personality traits. If we’ve lost sight of our special gifts, this gives family members an opportunity to point them out to us: “You are the best listener.” “You always manage to cheer us up when we’re down.” “You can fix anything that’s broken.”

Who has treated you with kindness and generosity, and how would you like to thank that person?
Gratitude can take many forms – a homemade gift, a thank-you card, a phone call, a spontaneous favor. Remembering those who have made us feel special and valued encourages us to become more aware and appreciative of human kindness. You might discuss ways to show your gratitude by passing on a person’s kindness through your own acts of generosity.

Teaching children by example how to make their gratitude known is at the core of teaching them how to appreciate and celebrate the abundance in their lives. These are lessons learned throughout a lifetime, not merely discussions we have at Thanksgiving dinner.

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