Last year I read an enlightening article on gratitude that stuck with me. The author explained how gratitude comes from noticing one’s life, not thinking about it. He explained how we are often asked to think about what we are grateful for, but that thinking about what we are grateful for, doesn’t necessarily leave us feeling grateful inside.
He explained how it is rather the experience that leaves us feeling grateful, not the idea of something. This really resonated with me. He wrote “Reflecting on the good fortune of having a fixed address is nice, but stepping inside your front door after a cold and rainy walk home is sublime….. Consider the world of difference between trying to appreciate the notion that you aren’t homeless, and appreciating the real-time experience of getting into bed in your own bedroom.”
So, instead of looking at gratitude in some abstract assessment of our lives, he encourages us to be mindful in the present moment; to notice what we can see, feel, hear, or sense, in the present moment; to experience our gratitude, rather than simply think about it.
So, in the classes this week, I encouraged the children to focus on an experience they had had during their day; an experience that felt helpful, pleasant or simply beautiful. I encouraged them to connect with how they felt during experience. This is the starting point to encourage a child to feel their gratitude, not just think about it in an abstract manner.
We also listened to a guided visualisation in one of the classes. The children chose Fly Eagle Fly from the Mindful Moments for Minis album. A firm favourite! We did a fun breath awareness exercise with playdough and pom poms. And of course, we painted some more beautiful gratefulness rocks, focusing on the pleasant experience that each child had had during their day. Then, before we knew it, the lesson had ended!
So, this week I would like to encourage you to take a moment the next time you tuck your child into bed at night, to appreciate with them the comforting feeling of pulling the covers up tight and snuggling in for the night. Using our senses to appreciate the little things, like pulling up the covers, can help us feel genuinely grateful for the big things, like having a home.