The other morning I was in a bad mood. The kids were running late, the house was a mess, and I just wanted to crawl back under the covers and sleep.
Lia and I were on our way to school and were supposed to be discussing what our day would look like. I wrote about our morning routine here. But I didn’t want to. I was too grumpy.
I have a list of things to do when I am in a bad mood, but I did not want to do any of them. Upbeat music – nope. Not in the mood. Dance party – I just wanted to sleep, I wasn’t about to dance. Shout positive affirmations – seriously? No.
I couldn’t seem to find the energy to do any of my normal techniques. Plus I was feeling sorry for myself. I was overworked. No one appreciated me. My life was difficult. The list of negatives seemed endless.
Finally, I told Lia that we each needed to name ten things we were grateful for. I was desperate. I had to get out of this funk and this seemed required little effort. Our list began:
- Me: The sky is a pretty blue this morning.
- Lia: The flowers are blooming so pretty.
- Me: We had a good breakfast this morning.
- Lia: I get to spend time with my mom (that one got to me and started to change my thoughts).
- Me: Your hair looks good and you did it all by yourself!
- Lia: I am excited to go to music class today.
- Me: I am grateful for . . .
By this time, my mood had started to change. I was actually surprised at how my mood changed in just the 5 minutes Lia and I spent being grateful. It intrigued me so I began researching the science of gratitude. I found this interesting study.
Researchers are finding that gratitude is directly linked to happiness. People who express gratitude regularly are happier people. As I thought about this, I realized I needed to add this technique into my routine for when I was feeling down. But I also need to routinely express gratitude.
So I thought of a few activities to express gratitude:
- Appreciate the small beauties in life and express gratitude for them
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Write thank you notes
- List my blessing (like Lia and I did)
- Pray and thank God for his blessings
A few years ago a good friend gave me the book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voscamp. Her expressions of gratitude are beautifully written, poetry like moments of simple things. I loved reading about her experience of keeping the journal and what she learned. I highly recommend the book.
I believe expressing gratitude is contagious as well. I find when I express gratitude to my family, they respond better and are happier as well.
How do you express gratitude? And how do you teach gratitude to your children?