“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” — Frederick Keonig
Many people think they can’t be grateful until they’re happy. But look closely and you’ll find that it’s the opposite: people are happy because they are grateful. People who describe themselves as consciously cultivating gratefulness are rated as happier by those who know them, as well as by themselves.
Children don’t have a context for life, they don’t know whether they are lucky or unlucky, only that their friend has more expensive sneakers. But there are many ways to help children learn to cultivate gratitude, which is the opposite of taking everything for granted. The most obvious is modeling it.
The excerpt above is from an article from Dr. Laura Markham on developing happiness. Grit is connected to happiness and gratitude in so many ways. Keeping a positive and happy attitude when things don’t go your way is essential in order to “stay the course.” Those who stay positive often are those who can persist much longer in the face of adversity. Finally, those who understand and practice gratitude better appreciate their surroundings and their journey to reach long term goals.
This Monday is Memorial Day. For many families, it is a time to enjoy a three day weekend and hang out by the pool. But it’s important to take to the time to remind your kids the value of Memorial Day. Not only teaching them to be thankful in everyday life, but to remember the sacrifices made by those who died defending our country and the grit they exemplified.
Try a few of these things this weekend as you better appreciate your hot dog eating and swimming:
- Discuss the true meaning of Memorial Day as a day of national awareness and respect to honor Americans who have died while defending this country. Talk about the courageous acts of those who have died and how they made sacrifices for others they didn’t even know.
- Take part in a Memorial Day activity locally. This can be something you do in your neighborhood or with a few other families. My son worked with his boy scout troop this week and they placed flags on the graves of veterans in a local cemetery. Flowers could be placed as well.
- If possible, talk to a Veteran. Take the opportunity to speak with a relative or friend who has served in the armed forces and find out what it meant to them. Follow up with your child about that conversation and ask how they could continue to honor that individual each day (not just on Memorial Day).
Remind your children that Memorial Day is just one day to honor our veterans and to be thankful. Point out things to be thankful for in everyday life in order to teach children gratitude everywhere. A home to live in, food to eat and a bed to sleep in are things that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Teach children gratitude by allowing them to see that there are people in need of help and teach your children to share what they have by modeling it. The great thing about the words, “Thank you” is that it never hurts to use it.