While standing in the kitchen this morning, I randomly blurted out how grateful I was for our warm home and the awesome family within it. It came out of nowhere for my husband and kids, but I'd been thinking about gratitude recently and couldn't help noticing all the goodness in my life. I also noticed how great it felt to start off the day thinking about what I am most thankful for. It was like a shot of dopamine with my morning coffee.
I've always been a firm believer in the power of positivity, and expressing gratitude seems to fit in nicely with this theory. What if, instead of sinking into dysphoria over long and cold winter days or feeling completely helpless about the current state of world affairs, we focus instead on things in our lives that we have control over? Things such as our home life, work life, family and friends.
One of my most popular blog posts ever was An Open Letter to the Father of My Children, in which I expressed gratitude for all of the things my husband does for us every day. It sparked a whole lot of love and positive comments from many people and demonstrated that openly showing and sharing gratitude is a really good thing.
An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike.
Begin cultivating an attitude of gratitude by keeping a short, daily list of things you are grateful for. Share your thoughts with your family and friends, and take time out of your day to think about gratitude. Have your kids practice too, because grateful families talk about what they are thankful for and practice gratitude daily.
Make a habit of expressing gratitude year-round as opposed to seasonally because studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression. That shot of dopamine I mentioned? Some say that expressing gratitude can indeed create a surge of "feel good" brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, so for generally happy people, that's a great thing, but for clinically depressed people, it's a game changer.
Developing an attitude of gratitude is healthy for you and your family, so make it a part of your family's daily life and watch as everyone adopts more grateful behaviours and transitions away from cynicism and negativity.