“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
Gratitude is a gift from God that we seldom recognize as such. It is also a learned virtue that can serve us well all the days of our lives, and I don’t mean just gratitude for our financial resources. I’m talking about gratitude for all those things you take for granted and for all the people in your life.
Today, as Thanksgiving approaches, I’m going to challenge you to cultivate gratitude in every member of your family, from the youngest to the oldest. Why should you do that? Because learning to express gratitude can literally change your life and theirs.
Here are some ideas to get you started down that path.
- Begin with yourself. Grab a notebook and each night before you go to bed, write down 3 things you are thankful for.
- Give thanks for those things you take for granted like paved roads, libraries, shoes that fit, shampoo, telephones, grocery stores with full shelves, public transportation, bandages, warm coats, blankets, coffee mugs and enough coffee to wake you up, umbrellas, windows, hot showers, and flush toilets.
- Give thanks for all the people in your life like the grocery store clerk, the postman, your bus driver, the pilot who flies you home for the holidays, the doctor and nurse who calm your fears, teachers, preachers, neighbors, and your friends and relatives including the cranky ones.
- Give thanks for the natural world around you like trees and the birds in them, beautiful, fragrant flowers, paths to hike, mountains to climb, oceans to gaze at in awe as you help the waves roll in, the sun and the moon and the stars, and, yes, even the deer that eat your tulips.
Your attitudes won’t change overnight, but as your understanding of gratitude grows, share with others how learning to say thanks for things you never thought about has changed your awareness of the world you live in, the people you encounter, the things you take for granted, and the joys you find in life.
If you are a parent, it is never too early or too late to help your children discover the important role that gratitude can play in their lives. Even cranky relatives can change when they learn gratitude. Learning to be grateful in the best of times makes it easier to cope in the worst of times.
Blessings on your efforts to enrich your life with gratitude,