This month, we have been partnering with LaDonna Greiner, founder of the Gratitude is Great movement and appreciation-card company, 21 Reasons to Say Thank You. Before Thanksgiving, she shared insight into how to create a low-pressure atmosphere when sharing thanks with friends and family during the holiday meal.
Today this series continues with her insight into how to cultivate gratitude all throughout the year, through what she calls a Gratitude Jar.
Here in the Midwest, the leaves have mostly fallen from the trees, and winter inches closer with each passing day. Thanksgiving has come and gone with its festivities, and now families are preparing for Christmas and the year’s end.
Think back over this year. There were probably both great and grueling days. Moments when you may have thought you would buckle under the chaos of the little ones in your life, and moments when you would simply gaze at them in wonder that they are yours–maybe even in the same day. There were probably moments of pain sometimes coexisting with moments of great joy. And each of these moments forms together to create the year 2017, another year completed.
It’s so easy to forget. Our minds can only hold so much, and often, our memories can be faulty in even the things we do remember.
LaDonna talks about an idea that not only cultivates a grateful mindset but can also serve as a reminder for the tiny, fleeting but precious moments that our minds don’t always have the capacity to retain.
She recommends creating a family Gratitude Jar, which is simply that: a jar to hold slips of paper that contain good things from throughout the year. It can be a daily or weekly practice, where each family member writes a phrase, memory or even a word to remember something good with the date. It could be something as extravagant as a family vacation or something as every day as reading your daughter’s favorite story again, surrounded by Christmas lights on the couch.
Refrain from asking family members to read the slips out loud to everyone, as that may prohibit some from wanting to participate. At the end of the year, everyone will have the opportunity to read and share what good things they wanted to remember from the year.
LaDonna also mentions that December is a good month to start a gratitude jar, as it could help in curbing the “entitlement monster” that might rear it’s head during the holidays. She says:
“to start by sharing one brief comment about what you are thankful for, the person you are grateful to, and the sacrifice or effort given to provide you with the item or action. You could stimulate a conversation like this, ‘I’m grateful to grandma and grandpa for taking you to school, it’s really nice of them to get out in the cold–I’m sure they would rather stay inside. What do you think?'”
Framing thanks in this way can cultivate a grateful mindset, as well as help children develop stronger empathy–or at least, to hear what it means to consider others’ perspectives if they are still very young.
The container can be a jar or box, and the children can decorate it to really make it their own.
Whether you start a jar or utilize other means of practicing gratitude, as 2017 comes to a close, I hope your awareness of the good things in your life sharpens because there is truly much to be thankful for.