- You Are Not Alone
- The Big Picture
- Things To Try
- There Is Hope
If we thought about it, we would find that we don’t give or hear expressions of gratitude as often as we should. If you feel this way you are certainly not alone. Remembering to Express Gratitude can help us and our family members. Gratitude is more than an inner feeling. When good things are happening around us, when we’re with those we love and we’re grateful and we’re expressing it, the feeling of love and tenderness grows. Gratitude can bring a calming feeling.
What is gratitude, really? It includes saying “thank you” and being polite. But it is more than that. Expressing Gratitude is the beginning of courtesy, generosity, concern and appreciation for family members and others.
A deeply felt and fully expressed gratitude is an effective way to positively influence attitudes and behavior, our own and that of others. Learning to feel and express gratitude can have a significant effect on the happiness and success of every family member.
So how do we help our families do it? First, watch the brief video on Expressing Gratitude by clicking on the arrow in the window. Then, read the information under the two tabs, The Big Picture and Things to Try. These sections contain information to help you improve your own ability and teach family members how to express gratitude more effectively.
There is no such thing as gratitude unexpressed. If it is unexpressed, it is plain, old-fashioned ingratitude. ~Robert Brault
Where Does Gratitude Begin?
Let’s begin at the beginning. What we mean is that any effort to produce happiness in the family starts with you . . . and this includes teaching gratitude.
You will probably be tempted to ask, “Can that be right? My kids are the ungrateful ones!”
Most of us start family improvement efforts with a focus on the “offender,” by trying to change our child’s behavior.
Let’s step back and try to change our perspective a little bit. If we always focus on the behavior of our children, we may miss the origins of that behavior . . . ourselves!
What are the Benefits of Gratitude?
Expressions of gratitude build and encourage our children and spouses. Our family needs to know that we appreciate things they do, efforts they make. It comes back to us all knowing and feeling that we are blessed in so many ways.
One way to focus our minds on the things in our lives that engender feelings of gratitude is to write down what we are grateful for.
A gratitude journal is a treasure of private expressions of thankfulness that helps us recognize all the goodness in our own lives and in the lives of those we care about.
A gratitude journal can also help us recognize opportunities to express our gratitude. As we notice the things we are grateful for we will be more inclined to express gratitude to others, thus multiplying the positive benefits of our gratitude.
Being an Example of Gratitude
“Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” -Albert Einstein
It’s a lot easier for our children to learn to feel and express gratitude if they grow up seeing gratitude expressed our home. Let your children see you expressing gratitude, showing appreciation for what you have and what others have done for you.
Our feelings of gratitude reflect our character. When we express gratitude our children feel loved and appreciated. They learn how feeling and expressing gratitude blesses their lives and the lives of others.
Children learn gratitude best by watching you show gratitude.
Expressing gratitude seems so simple and yet it has immediate and lasting positive effects on us. To begin experiencing the benefits of expressing gratitude in our families, we must first awaken within ourselves the attitude of being appreciative. Doing this will increase the positive feelings in our families, foster love, build relationships and reduce criticism.
Imagine the feelings of this young man’s parents . . .
“There sits a young man here today in whose home I was a guest. Since he had recently left for [university], I was to sleep in his room Saturday night. As his mother showed me the room, she opened his closet where I saw a handwritten letter taped to the rod in the closet. It read:
Mom, Thanks for all you’ve done to make this a special summer. You are a very special mother and I thank the Lord for the blessing of being your son. I love you and appreciate all you do in my behalf. See you in November.
“As she paused while I read it, she said, ‘Hope you don’t mind hanging your clothes out here. This note is still kind of precious. You know, every time I open this closet I read it again, and I would like to leave it there a little longer’” (What Kind of Thanks? Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [26 Nov. 1968], 5).