11 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude This Month and Beyond
by Callie Collins
Oct 26, 2022
November is the month we officially pause to reflect on the blessings in our lives. Teaching gratitude to children can feel trying at times, especially with the constant push for more just around the corner, between Black Friday and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Whether you’re taking time out for yourself or passing on valuable life lessons, here are 11 ways to cultivate gratitude now and into the new year.

11 gratitude cultivating actions:

1. Make the time:

Schedule an intentional 20-minute session to meditate on what blessings you and your family already have. Talk it out with children. Get the conversation started by naming topics in these five categories: health, wealth, family, everyday support and opportunities for advancement. Taking less for granted is the ultimate goal of the conversation.

2. Create a ta-da list:

Instead of adding another to-do list to what is already a busy season, create a ta-da list of opportunities. Think of it as a fall bucket list framed as what you get to do, not what you have to do. Feeling grateful for the experience happens when you feel less pressure and more joy.

3. Get out in nature:

Some people find walking in nature to be relaxing and meditative. Choose to intentionally notice details you ordinarily would hurry past. Point them out to young children as they walk with you. Choose to start the holiday season with calm.

4. Talk it out around the table:

The family tradition of naming what we are thankful for does not have to be reserved for just once a year. Try it after grace at Sunday dinner or on a random weeknight.

5. Volunteer in your community:

Children don’t always realize how the bigger picture looks for others. Becoming more aware of other life circumstances comes with age and experience. One way to get that experience is to volunteer. Even if public interaction is limited, knowing donated food or clothing will benefit others helps add a tangible element to underscore the fact not everyone has them in abundance.

6. Select a gift to give:

Participate in an angel tree program or other charitable drive. Allow your child to select a toy or other special gift to donate.

7. Clean out the toy chest:

Another way to help children understand how what they own can benefit others is to ask them to help you clean out their toy chest or closet to donate items no longer needed. Toys they no longer play with, outgrown clothes and baby products can be a tremendous help to someone else. The relevance of donating to a child, with basic items, can help them understand more about helping one another in familiar ways.

8. Make something to  give:

Whether it’s a child’s drawing, a homemade dinner or a kind letter, giving to others helps us remember the joy of that spirit, which has a way of returning our own kindness. ‘Tis better to give than to receive at times, especially at this time of year when we are tasked with thinking of others through a busy season.

9. Do something the hard way:

Want to be more grateful for the basics? Choose a daily chore or an old-fashioned task and do it the hard way or assign it to someone in your household. For example, if your teen grumbles about emptying the dishwasher, invite him or her to hand wash a load of dishes. Ready to throw away a shirt? Try mending it first. Little changes can make a big difference in one’s perspective.

10. Visit someone who does not go out:

The elderly, the ill, women with small babies: All are in a phase of life where they are indoors, perhaps wishing to be able to go about their previous routine. Slow down and pay a kind visit to someone who has time to consider life’s blessings and let them share those realizations with you.

11. Write a thank you note:

Start a new habit of writing one thank you note by hand each week or penning a single thank you note to someone who needs to hear words of gratitude. Even if you go with email instead, taking the time to reflect on the words to use gives you a way to decide why something matters and express it.

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