In the whirlwind of adult life, gratitude often takes a backseat. In recent years, I’ve found that my children have become my most exceptional teachers when it comes to understanding the depth of all that we have to be thankful for. In a world that sometimes feels overwhelmingly heavy, with prevalent hate, violence, and intolerance, reconnecting with gratitude has been a true lifeline. Even though I’m usually the guide and instructor, my children have become my wisest mentors with their innocence and purity. Here’s how my kids teach me about gratitude:
- Embracing the Present Moment
Children have a remarkable talent for immersing themselves in the present. Their wonder at everyday occurrences, like a butterfly’s flight or the feel of raindrops on their skin, reminds adults of the beauty of the here and now. In our fast-paced lives, we often rush past these moments, but kids teach us that life’s most precious treasures happen right before our eyes, urging us to savor them with gratitude.
- Finding Joy in Simplicity
Kids show us joy can be found in the simplest things—a doodle, a game of hide-and-seek, or a shared bedtime story. They demonstrate that true happiness is achieved by appreciating life’s uncomplicated pleasures.
- Expressing Unfiltered Appreciation
Children are refreshingly honest about their feelings. When they’re happy, they laugh with abandon, and when they’re thankful, they express it openly. As adults, we often withhold our emotions, fearing vulnerability. Kids remind us that openly and authentically expressing gratitude strengthens connections with others and fills our lives with warmth and love.
- Learning from Their Curiosity
Kids are perpetually curious, forever asking “why” and seeking to understand the world around them. This curiosity inspires adults to see life with fresh eyes, appreciate the wonder of everyday phenomena, and inquire and learn as if we were experiencing the world for the first time.
- Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Children possess an innate ability to love and accept unconditionally. They love without judgments, labels, or conditions. Their love is a pure form of gratitude for the people in their lives, teaching adults the value of loving and accepting others as they are.
As a family, we celebrate gratitude each November with our unique gratitude turkey tradition. Every morning at breakfast, we ask our kids what they’re grateful for and write it on a construction paper feather, which we then proudly glue onto a turkey body made from paper grocery bags. It’s heartwarming to watch the feathers fill in throughout the month. This tradition, occurring just before the holiday season, including their birthdays, shifts our focus to all the non-material things to be grateful for. We savor the extra marshmallows in Lucky Charms, the hugs exchanged with brothers, and the comfort of a soft blanket on a chilly morning.
You can find more inspiration for gratitude practices whether or not you have children in your home. Regardless of your circumstances, this is a practice from which we can all benefit.
Children offer a tranquil counterbalance in a world that often demands more, faster, and better. They remind us that the essence of gratitude lies not in what we possess, but in how we perceive and appreciate the world around us. By paying attention to them and learning from their simple yet profound wisdom, adults can rekindle their own sense of gratitude, leading to a more fulfilling and enriched life. Let’s not underestimate the deep wisdom of the little ones; they may be the most influential gratitude mentors we never knew we had.