I was reading on article on raising children to love life when it occurred to me that so much of what we hope to teach our children, we could actually benefit a great deal from ourselves. Scientists estimate that only 50 percent of an upbeat attitude is genetic. Christine Carter, Ph.D., executive director of the Greater Good Science Center, in Berkeley, California claims, "Happiness is really a wide range of positive emotions that are more learned behavior than inborn traits." She further explains, "Our children develop their habits of thinking, feeling, and behaving based on what we teach them about the world, their relationships, and our expectations." Reading this certainly caused me to stop and evaluate my habits. Do I behavior in a manner I want my son to emulate? Or do I need to a make some changes?
While there are several great tips on learning to love life, there is one in particular I'd like to focus on. And that is carrying a strong sense of authentic gratitude and appreciation.
How often do we stop and express our appreciation throughout the day? According to the National Institute for Healthcare Research, we are more likely to say "thank you" to strangers or acquaintances than to our own family members or friends.
I don't know about you, but this certainly struck a cord with me. I know I'm definitely at fault of packing my day so full of "to dos" that I fail to stop and express appreciation along the way. One tool I've read about often, yet failed to incorporate into my day, is a daily gratitude journal or even creating a routine time in the day to express them. Since I want to instill these habits in my son, I thought expressing appreciation verbally would be most appropriate.
There are several times throughout the day I could incorporate this simple yet powerful routine. After giving it some thought, I liked the idea of starting our dinners by going around the table and sharing what we are grateful for in our day. What a more positive way to start conversation? Not only does it cause us to focus on something positive in our day, it forces us to think about everything that happened. I figure this could only help my hope to have flowing conversations around our dinner table. While at nine months our son may be too young to fully appreciate the concept, as parents I think now a great time get in the habit. And he's never too young to start hearing kind words.
So what could you incorporate into your day to show gratitude? With just a little time and effort, just think of the positive outlook it may bring into your life...and the life of those around you.
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