Years ago I encouraged the kids to start a gratitude journal each. Basically I wanted to instill in them the importance of being thankful for what they do have in their lives rather than being upset by what they don't.
It lasted about 6 months but it definitely cemented a mindset that they largely still have today.
A gratitude journal is basically just a note book where you write down what you're grateful for in your life at the end of each day.
Studies show that writing down the stuff you've enjoyed about your day can make you feel happier with effects lasting for up to 6 months after your last journal entry.
I say that when it comes to kids, the effects last longer than that. The practice of recognising the good can last a lifetime.
It's not that you ignore the bad stuff, it's just that you put the challenges into perspective by recognising that for everything that goes wrong, there's a bunch of stuff that also goes right.
It's a great way to help create a positive and optimistic mindset.
Another great exercise is to write down what you are grateful for about the people around you. We would do that on little bits of note paper and put them into a box which we'd open once a week and read out at dinner time.
It not only got the family focussed on recognising the good in everyone, but it also made the recipient of the note feel good about themselves when they heard what people were saying.
These notes were anonymous but of course we knew who was saying what because there was only four of us participating in the exercise (plus my son was so young I was having to write his notes for him). But it was another great way to focus on gratitude.
Good things happen on the worst days, even if it's only the fact that we've got a roof over our head, clothes on our back and a window out of which we can view the world.
One of the key "secrets" to happiness is gratitude.
What are you grateful for today?
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