The Powerful Benefits of Gratitude

Teaching kids how to cultivate gratitude is a powerful exercise that helps them better deal with life’s ups and downs. 


The New York Times recently reported that according to a recent study from the University of North Carolina, “repeated brief moments of positive feelings can provide a buffer against stress and depression and foster both physical and mental health.”


That’s because when you focus on the positive things about your life, you tend to gradually start seeing things in a more positive light all the time. Of course, there will still be negative things that happen; that’s life. But learning how not to dwell on those circumstances and instead seek the positive, no matter how small, improves one’s well being.


One practice I love is creating a gratitude jar. This could be a shared jar for everyone in the family, or a jar for each individual. Every day, perhaps before dinner or bedtime, everyone writes down on a strip of paper one thing they are grateful for from their day. It could be the smell of lilacs, the warmth of the sun, the kind words of a friend, or quiet time shared with a loved one. 


Whenever you or your child is having a hard day, you can look back at all the things you wrote down in your jar and soak up the good feelings from those memories. At the end of the year, you can make a special ritual out of reading all the things you were grateful for during the past year. It’s a powerful way to observe all of the blessings big and small that greet us regularly.