Secrets to Raising a Happy Child: Practice Habitual Gratitude

Secret # 7:Practice Habitual Gratitude
Finally, happiness studies consistently link feelings of gratitude to emotional well-being. Research at the University of California, Davis, and elsewhere has shown that people who keep daily or weekly gratitude journals feel more optimistic, make more progress toward goals, and feel better about their lives overall. For a child, keeping a journal may be unrealistic. But one way to foster gratitude in children is to ask that each member of the family take time daily -- before or during a meal, for example -- to name aloud something he or she is thankful for, Carter suggests. The important thing is to make it a regular ritual. "This is one habit that will foster all kinds of positive emotions," she assures, "and it really can lead to lasting happiness."
With a son and another one on the way, Big C and I often talk about how we want to raise our boys. Everything we read or watch or hear about turns into a discussion on how we can apply these new insights as parents. In the same light, I chanced upon this article about raising happy kids. This was the last tip in the article, and I think there's something to this idea. 
Most people who know me would probably say that I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person, but I like to think that I'm the opposite. I've always believed that happiness is a mindset more than a state of being. A person can have blessings such as good health, a family that is still together in this time of divorce and separation and financial security, yet if they choose to believe that there is something lacking, they can never be truly happy. Yet a person who chooses to focus on the good things in life will be happy no matter what his or her situation is. 
The ability to be grateful for all that we have been blessed with is something I want to pass on to my sons. While we strive hard to ensure that we give them a comfortable life, Big C and I really want to raise our boys to be appreciative of the simple things. We don't want them growing up thinking that their life is somehow worse off compared to other kids who have more than they do (and believe  me, whether I like it or not, they'll come into contact with kids like that), and that the amount of things they have is a measure of their worth as human beings. Most especially, we don't want them to place too much emphasis on materialism and money or thinking that having more and more things will make them happy. For us, money is a means to an end, not the end in itself. 

And in the interest of creating an atmosphere of gratitude in our home, I'm officially challenging myself to write an entry into my gratitude journal every Monday, to look back on the week that has passed and identify the things that I am grateful for.

My Gratitude Journal (March 19, 2012)
  • Despite having his schedule interrupted yesterday, J maintained a normal bedtime (9pm) and slept comfortably through the night.
  • J finally pooped after 2 days. (This sounds gross, but I know other mommies will be able to relate.)
  • Little C is getting more active by the day and his kicks and swirls and rolls reassure me that my little one is safe and sound inside my womb.
  • I was able to finish one project last week, and I'm starting on a new one this week. More projects means more money saved. Yay!
  • As of this morning, I can officially say that I have recovered from my bout with pharyngitis. 
  • My little sister is marking the start of a new chapter in her life and it's a happy and exciting time for our family.
  • This week, I got the chance to spend quality time with my mom and my sisters.
So, mommies, what are you grateful for?


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