At first I thought it would be nearly impossible to write about being grateful when it seems like we are reminded daily of the oppression, cruelty, and terror of the world, especially recently. There are no words I can write that will lessen or heal the pain of those directly and indirectly impacted by the events of the past couple weeks. I became a therapist to help people. I believe in taking care of each other. I won’t give up and I hope you won’t either. Thanks for sticking with this so far-let’s get to it!
First and foremost, why is gratitude even that important? We kind of just collectively agree it’s a good thing, but for more evidence, here are seven reasons why gratitude matters. It turns out we do better in general when we are able to find things we are grateful for. And here’s the good news; they don’t even have to be big things. In fact, it is WAYYYYYYY more effective to find smaller and simpler things in everyday life to be grateful for.
The trick is to start catching the little things that go well. For instance, when your child FINALLY picks up his toys without you having to ask. Telling your child “Thank you for picking up your toys just now. That helps me a lot”. Or when your partner completely tunes in when you talk about your super annoying coworker. Telling them “I really needed to vent and I feel better. Thank you for being a good listener”. This is called labeled praise. It’s best when it’s immediate, authentic and specific. It conveys “I see you and I’m grateful for you in this moment” and encourages similar behaviors in the future. It works wonders with children (and with adults) because it is very clear and we all want to hear about the good things we do! I will be the first to tell you that labeled praise can initially feel a little weird but I’d encourage you to keep trying. It will start to feel more natural and it’s worth it. What a great lesson for all of us, including our children, that when we pay attention to the little things we can see the greatest good.