Growing up in an immigrant family my parents often reminded us of how blessed we were to grow up in America. They wanted us to know that we were living a better life, and to appreciate it. My parents didn’t want us to be lazy, or take our good fortune for granted.
When we complained about school, my mom would tell us that when she was a student, they all had to wear uniforms, and all the girls had to have their hair cut short, just below their ear lobe. The boys? They had to shave their heads. My dad told us how lucky we were that our teachers didn’t hit us with a ruler if we made mistakes.
When my parents were in school they had to study hard, from morning to night. That was their life. They had to study because if they didn’t do well on college entrance exams, that could ruin their chances of getting into a good university. Back then, students’ aptitudes determined what careers they could go into. Living in America, and having the opportunity to choose whatever career we wanted, or change our minds, was something they never had, or could even fathom.
As a first generation Asian American I intentionally teach my children to be grateful as well. Gratitude isn’t an instinct, it’s taught by example, mirrored, and honed repeatedly. I’ve found that gratitude is the key to happiness. When we focus on the good we have, the less we become consumed and pulled under, by the trials of life.
Here are 5 simple ways you can help your family adopt an attitude of gratitude.
1. Say thank you often. Do it sincerely, for all the simple things we do for each other daily. Infuse your conversations with words of appreciation.
2. Take a moment, when your child, or spouse has done something thoughtful, and make a point of expressing your gratitude in words, and with physical affection. While we live in a world of mobile devices, eye-contact is invaluable.
3. Give acts of service to each other. Simple things, like making a bed, giving a shoulder massage, or holding a bag for each other can remind us of our love, and build strong bonds. It’s the small, daily acts that promote a consistency of gratitude.
4. Acknowledge when your child thanks you, or appreciates something. Positive reinforcement of their behavior lets them know that you appreciate the kind of person they are, and encourages them to be more grateful.
5. Look for things to be grateful for. The more we focus on gratitude, the more we see how blessed we are, and the happier we are.
If you’re looking for a fun craft activity to work on with your kids, last year we created gratitude trees. It was super easy, and my daughters loved it. We kept it up all of November so that we’d have a visual reminder of all our many blessings.
gift tags, varied sizes and shapes
hot glue gun
Glue burlap ribbon to the mason jar. Fill mason jar with colored sand, add the smooth rocks, arrange the branches. Write the things you’re grateful for on the individual gift tags. Hang gift tags on the branches. Display, and enjoy all month long.
Our October blog carnival is about how we give thanks. Check out what cool things my fellow #AsianMomBloggers and their family do during this season of thanks.