The Attitude of Gratitude
From the PDSB Mental Health Resource Team
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is all about focusing on what's good in your life. It is paying attention to the things that we can sometimes take for granted, especially when we are feeling stressed. There are many different words that can describe feelings of gratitude, including feeling thankful, lucky, or fortunate. An attitude of gratitude involves actively choosing to acknowledge and appreciate the things you are thankful for in life. By making a focused effort to reflect on the positive parts of your day, the stressors you face can begin to feel a little less overwhelming.
Why Does Gratitude Matter?
Practicing an attitude of gratitude can make a BIG difference on your overall outlook on life. Gratitude has been shown to BOOST both physical and mental health outcomes by helping people to:
- Improve their self-worth and esteem
- Balance their negative emotions
- Experience other positive emotions linked with gratitude (e.g., happiness)
- Build better relationships with others
Give Gratitude A Go
Feel like an attitude of gratitude could benefit your family? Here are a few suggestions to get you started!
1. Keep a Journal: Each family member should write down three things they are thankful for each day (big or small). As a family, make a little time each week to review some of the entries. When an individual family member feels stressed or overwhelmed, encourage them to reflect on their recent journal entries.
2. Create a Photo Album: Take photos of things that make you and your family happy. Regularly add the photos to an album. Schedule a little relaxation time each week to review your entries.
3. Fill a Jar: Reflect on the things you and your family members are grateful for at the end of each day. For each reflection, add a marble to a jar to symbolize your gratitude. Monitor how long it takes to fill the jar.
4. Pay It Forward: Put together a gratitude box for someone else...why not one for each family member? On colourful pieces of paper, write several entries to let the person know what you appreciate about them. Try: 'Thank you for…' or 'I love you because….' Once the box is complete, wrap it and present it as a gift.
5. Say Thank You: As often as you can! Make a concerted effort to say thank you to other people. By thanking others, you will begin to notice things that you appreciate in the moment.
Like any skill, gratitude is one that needs to be practiced. Anyone who spends time with children and youth knows that they are are mimics and they learn by watching how we deal with life's stresses and opportunities. By mindfully modelling gratitude and bringing our children and youth into this practice, we are promoting their healthy development for life!
For updates and to follow along with the work of the PDSB Mental Health Resource Team, find them on Twitter @MHRTPeel.
Adapted from Reach Out Australia (2018) and The Optimistic Child (1995).