Thanksgiving Day is often a time when families reflect on what they are thankful for, but did you know there is value to making gratitude a year round habit? The practice of looking around, noticing what we are thankful for, and reflecting on moments of joy is great for our brain and incredibly handy as we raise our kids. (You can read more about the importance of appreciation here.)
I can’t tell you what a difference appreciation makes in our home. As I reflect, I am amazed at how often I rely on it. We use appreciation proactively to build resilience – whether at dinner to reflect on joyful moments from our day or in prayer sharing what we appreciate with God.
Appreciation helps us feel more joyful and be ready when the hard times come (it is my go-to when the mood in the house starts to shift.) A habit in our family is to practice appreciation in the car on the way to school, which is great for turning around bad moods after the bumps of the morning routine or just to add a joy boost to the day. When the boys start grumping at each other, we pause to get back to relational mode by thinking about some things we appreciate. When the boys hurt each other’s feelings with unkind words, we step it up a notch and ask them to share things they appreciate about one another.
I also rely on appreciation to help me when my mood plummets. It can help me turn around my own sour mood and get back to relational mode.
If you haven’t made appreciation a daily habit, I invite you to give it a try! I recommend you pick a time of day when your kids would be in the best frame of mind to try something new (whether at breakfast, on the way to school, dinner, bedtime or another time that works for you) and invite everyone to share something that made them smile today. Once you find a time of day that reliably works, try adding a second round at another time during the day, and build up to using appreciation as a way to recover when things are falling apart.