Its hard to be thankful. We tell kids they should be, we tell other people they should be, we tell ourselves we should be. But how often do you feel thankful for what you have? Gratitude is a type of equilibrium that helps you to keep your footing against the constant gravity of selfishness. When we express gratitude to someone or for something, we recognize that a part of our joy was given by someone else who used their choices to make us happy, if even for a moment. This fundamental act realigns us in the reality that we can’t be happy on our own.
I love to be on my own. I love an empty house, I love being the only person in a movie theater. But even all of those solo pursuits are built on the work of others. The friends and family who helped me make my house cozy, the people who made the movie I am about to enjoy etc.
Almost everything that we want in life has some connection to other people. And losing that awareness leads to thinking that other people are thwarting your happiness which is one definition of selfishness. Being thankful reestablishes the wifi in the house and helps us remember that we need other people.
Also, thanking someone is a tiny gift. Its a way to give back. Its a way to return a small amount of joy to someone who gave you joy.
So here is a practical challenge. Get three thank you cards for yourself and for your child. Write three cards out to people that you owe more gratitude towards. I kinda hate writing cards, but I am doing this and I feel a weight off my chest in this simple act.
And teach your kids to keep thank you cards. Its not just for cotillion blue blood nerd kids. Gratitude is the dopamine we give ourselves in response to the dopamine someone tried to give to us.