How about some gratitude to improve attitude?

When I was a little kid, my mom had this mysterious little pink book…I remember that she would write in it sometimes, and she would list things that she was thankful for. At the time, I had no idea why she was doing it, and I am not sure if I ever asked, but I remember it well.  Nearly 20 years later (really!?!) during my yoga teacher training, I was required to keep a journal and in it I wrote a lot about gratitude.  Although I don’t keep a journal anymore, I find that making an effort to pause to offer gratitude on a regular basis really does have a positive impact on my overall mood…and leads to more contentment and happiness.  Research is even showing that gratitude improves well-being, social and physical health (I even checked PubMed, there is a bunch of research about it!)

Some of you might know that I recently made a big (monumental, even) and sorta scary career change. During these last few weeks pausing to offer gratitude has greatly helped this transition into my new role. I am thankful to spend more time with my family; I am thankful to have a supportive husband and family; I am thankful for so many things, I feel like I might explode!  Last week, I was literally scrubbing toilets thinking to myself “I am thankful to be scrubbing this toilet in the middle of the day, the sun is shining and we will all appreciate this clean bathroom!”

Tonight at my son’t bedtime, I witnessed a pretty impressive tantrum spurred by his discovery that I had thrown away an old karate catalog of his (the horror!! note to self: empty the trash can next time before he notices). Once he peeled himself off the floor and was in his bed, I asked him what he was thankful for…he very sweetly said “I am going to list something for each person in my family” and rattled off the following: Mom: doing relaxation with me (see previous blog post), Dad: teaching me hockey, Dog 1: letting me pet her, Dog 2: being soft.  He had forgotten all about the mean mommy who threw away his precious karate catalog and went to bed calmly and sweetly.

As a yoga teacher working with kids, I think that it is really important to get children talking about gratitude and what they are thankful for (and not just at Thanksgiving time). I will sometimes begin a yoga class by saying to the kids “tell me about the most awesome thing that happened to you today?” or asking “is there something or someone that you are thankful for?” Some kids are definitely more chatty than others and others can’t come up with anything on the spot… but I will continue asking. And I will keep enjoying watching their little faces light up when they are talking about their families and friends, their pets, and their home runs in baseball.

So, if you don’t think about it regularly already…see if pausing to offer a little gratitude can help to improve your attitude (or your kid’s attitude!)




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