|Our Thank You Tree|
Image by Tania Franco
With many friends and family, my 5 year old son has received an overwhelming amount of gifts. I sometimes see how he can grow up with a sense of entitlement. My husband and I have consciously chosen to reduce the amount of gifts and toys he receives by not buying him things each time we go to the store and asking our family to do so as well. We want to raise a child that feels grateful for what he has and isn't caught up in the capitalist view of always wanting more stuff that he doesn't even need.
We have had conversations with our son of how there are many people that are less fortunate and plan on being involved in volunteering as a family to raise this social consciousness both in our son and in our family. Throughout my adult life I have been involved with many causes dear to my heart and the experiences that I have gotten out of volunteering have been life changing and deeply rewarding. It's given me perspective and helped me realize how blessed I truly am.
A sense of gratitude has been found to be an important trait in people who feel happy and content with life. I myself have experienced how a regular gratitude practice is a key to mind, body and spirit health.
With the intention of teaching gratitude as a wellness practice and letting it be an integral part of our family life I decided to begin a new tradition and begin a Thankful Tree which ended up being called a Thank you tree by my then 4 year old. We discussed it before hand and made a whole project out of it. We collected sticks at the local park, cut construction paper into the form of leaves, used a whole punch and cut pieces of yarn.
During the month of November each evening we would sit together and think of one thing each of us was grateful for. Sometimes we were grateful for deeper things like love and family and other days it was every day conveniences like that great cup of coffee we had or living near parks that we can walk to. We tried not to repeat things that we were grateful for. When one member mentioned something we were going to say, we found a new thing to be grateful for that day. We did this exercise approximately 21 days in November.
We found that we are very fortunate. We found 66 things to feel grateful for and could have found another 66 more.
A regular gratitude practice helps us appreciate what we have and is supportive of greater happiness. Find creative ways to practice gratitude as an individual and as a family. The more you practice being thankful, the easier it becomes to find things to be thankful for.