“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy
Giving thanks shouldn’t be relegated to a single November day–it’s something that should be incorporated into our language and actions all year long. Gratitude can be taught and we can also live it by example.
It’s good for your health. For decades, mental health professionals have studied gratitude and how it can benefit our health. Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations. There’s plenty of research that suggests that feelings of thankfulness can also help us cope with daily stressors at home and at work. We know that stress can make us very ill. It’s linked with many serious ailments, including heart disease and cancer. If you’re grateful, you’re probably more optimistic, a characteristic that has been proven to boost the immune system and may help you live a longer, healthier life.
No one is born grateful. As parents, we often feel that no matter what our children get, it’s never enough for them. Parents.com notes that, “Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers and preschoolers–who are by nature self-centered–but it’s one of the most important.” When you can teach your kids gratitude, they will become more sensitive to the feelings of others and begin to learn the important life skill of being empathetic to others. As your children grow, these traits will follow them into the home, school, and workplace. Grateful people make better partners, employees, neighbors, friends, and leaders. Make gratitude a habit by weaving it into your daily conversations. It can be something as simple as saying how grateful you are to have a pet to love or food on the table because many people are not so fortunate.
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments each day to focus on all that you have rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.