I want to share how small steps can make a huge impact on the state of your happiness.
If you find yourself feeling negative or overwhelmed, a little gratitude can get you back on the right track.
Best of all, you don’t need to wait for your circumstances to change. You don’t have to wait for your kids to change their behaviour. Gratitude is free, easy, and effective.
Practice gratitude each day with these actions:
1. Write it down.
This is my all-time favourite way to practice gratitude, there is something so powerful in getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
Often my mind is racing a hundred miles a minute and my thoughts left unchecked can feel like an unruly toddler, so I make a daily habit of writing down a few things that I can be grateful for, it helps me focus my thoughts.
2. Be grateful for the little things.
I don’t know about you, but I find with all the stress and uncertainty of our future it’s easy to focus all our energy on the bigger issues, we can easily forget there’s plenty of small things you can be grateful for each day.
Even on the most challenging days, there’s always something to be thankful for, just make sure to share it with your children too. It could be you’re thankful how sweet and loving they are, how grateful for all the snuggles you get or how full of life and adventure they are.
Or maybe you’re grateful for a great cup of coffee, the sound of birds in the morning, or the fact that you don’t have to do the school run, make pack lunches or drag your kids to after-school clubs.
3. Go for a gratitude walk.
This is a great way to get out of your head and the kids off their screens! Ask your kids to focus on their surroundings and notice the small things to be thankful for.
On your walk, look for things that you can be grateful for: We spotted a seal in the sea, the shape of the clouds, the sun shining, the local café open for takeaways, (I had my first takeout coffee in 3-months yesterday, that was something to celebrate!) Or even a nice cool breeze were all things we choose to feel grateful for.
4. Tell people you’re thankful.
Your children are watching how you interact in the world and model your reactions, teach them to become more thankful for what they have and what others do for them.
The other day I received a delivery from the local pharmacy, I told the lady how thankful I was, she looked taken aback as she told me that was the first thank-you she’d received for a while. Show people that you’re grateful by thanking them. Whether it’s your child, neighbour, the postman or the cashier at the supermarket. Be thankful and let them know about it.
5. Talk kindly about others and see their best intentions.
Talking about others badly or with criticism triggers us to speak and act in ways that reinforce those beliefs. Do you phone up your bestie and have a grumble about your kid’s or partner’s behaviour? There’s nothing wrong in having a vent from time to time, it becomes a problem when we focus on finding fault.
I challenge you to pay extra close attention to when you judge others’ behaviour. (including your kid’s) If you’re about to say something negative – pause then try your best to make sure it’s something kind, considerate, and positive.
6. Teach the importance of giving back.
Scientists believe that acts of kindness and giving to others releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” Our actions, however small, can make a big difference, it creates a ripple effect that goes far beyond those we help.
My daughter loves baking cookies and selling them for charity in our neighbourhood, and both kids have a big clean out at least once a year and donates to children less fortunate than them. It’s a great way for children to learn about giving back and doing something positive for the community. When we promote acts of kindness early on, it’s much more likely that your children will also embrace this kind of compassion as they grow up.
7. Make a list of things that impress you about yourself.
Have a little gratitude for yourself too. Focusing on what you have, and the life around you, because it’s the little things we do or don’t do every day that make us who we are. And it’s the little things that determine how we respond when big things come along.
What are you impressed by when you take a look at yourself? You’ll not only be expressing gratitude, but you’ll also be doing wonders for your self-esteem.
8. Create a family gratitude jar or journal.
Having gratitude doesn’t just happen! It’s a ritual we have to nurture every day. There is something magical about having real world physical proof of all you’re grateful for. Decorate an empty jam jar and encourage family members to add written notes any time they feel grateful for something. Taking time as a family to celebrate and appreciate those moments helps you all relish each other and your life.
9. Meditate on the things that you’re grateful for.
Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Gratitude meditation is about reflecting on the things in our lives we’re grateful for. It’s about feeling appreciation in the moment and transporting us back to personal reflection. Put your focus and attention on those things you’re most grateful for. You might develop an even greater appreciation for them.
10. Have a daily ritual of celebrating each family member.
There is nothing like celebrating the small wins of the day to make you grateful for your family and all they do. It reminds us to focus on the simplest moments and how all the little things add up to a feeling of wellbeing.
When my kids were younger, we used to play a family game of ‘Guess who’ at the dinner table. I would ask my husband. “Guess who cleaned up all the toys after playing?” or “Guess who asked so politely for a snack this afternoon.” And my children would jump around in their seats, shouting out ‘Me, me me!” Focusing on what went ‘right’ during the day, or acts of kindness can mean the difference between a terrible day and the best day ever.
Summing it up.
If you’ve had a run of down days, or a day has taken a nosedive, these activities can help lift your mood – which directly affects how everyone else in the family is feeling.
If you’re not enjoying family life as much as you’d hoped and would like some help with a difficult-to-manage child (usually with that potent combination of a strong will and strong emotions) you can book in for a free consultation with me here, click here to book your call.