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Five Weeks of Gratitude Challenge! (or Gratitude, Not Platitudes)

We tend to focus on gratitude right around Thanksgiving, and then we (the culture at large) immediately launch into the frenzied holiday season...which seems in most ways to be entirely counter to all that happened before Black Friday. If one were to look on our culture from the outside, I doubt that gratitude would be one of the things observed. One might even think that all of that "gratitude" we had circulating on social media was little more than a series of platitudes.

But what can we do, especially as parents of little ones who get caught up so easily in the crass commercialism of the holiday season? Everywhere we go we see advertisements wrapped up in shiny packages--our children are taught (as we have been) to want, want, want. And the more you focus on your wants, the less you look at your needs. And, I think, the less we look at our needs and which ones have been met, the farther from grateful we become.

Last year I talked about those hand-turkeys (you know the ones), and how they could be used as the basis for a meditation on gratitude for Thanksgiving. This year I want to take it a few steps further. I want our children, ALL of our children, to spend more time thinking about what it is they're truly thankful for. More time thinking about their needs and how they're being met each day. And less time on what they want, want, want from every catalog, department store, or internet ad they see.

Why do I want our kids to focus on the things for which they feel grateful? Because of the research, of course! Studies have shown a strong correlation between gratitude and happiness...and some indicators linking gratitude to health. And if we can find ways to help our kids be happier and healthier, then I am all in!

So here is my proposal: Just like we did with the hand meditation last year (I know the sweater looks weird--I'm going to choose to be thankful I have such warm clothing), we pick five things we're thankful for. But this time, I want you (Mom/Dad/Grandma, etc.) to choose a theme. For example, you might choose family one week (thankful for Mom, Dad, Brother, Auntie, & Uncle). The next week you might choose toys (stuffed rabbit, Legos, favorite doll, blue truck, stuffed bear). The next week could be food. The next clothing, or things about your kitchen, or friends far or near. You get the idea. But just to make things easier, there about five weeks till the end of the year. Here is your list of five themes for:

Five Weeks of Gratitude:

  1. Family

  2. Food

  3. Toys

  4. Clothing

  5. Books

I am issuing a challenge: Do this little exercise each night before bed, tracing your hand along with your little one's, and thinking about each of the five things you're thankful for that week. Or do it before each meal if you eat as a family. Or do it together in the morning right after you get into the car, to set everyone's day up to be successful. Find the best timing that works for your family, and then stick to it. Just till the end of the year. See how you feel after a week or two, and check in again after week five. My hope is this will become one of the little things you do that has a big impact on your entire family.

Check back in and let me know how it's going! I'll be doing it right along with you. And may health and happiness find you and yours as we launch into the winter holiday season!

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