Help your family cultivate a heart of gratitude with the 30 Days of Thankfulness project.
The 30 Days of Thankfulness is a tradition my family adopted a few years ago to help our children cultivate hearts of gratitude. Teaching our children to say “thank you” is important to us, but instilling a sense of gratitude in them is a critical life skill.
Multiple studies have shown that gratitude is a mindset which significantly increases well-being and satisfaction in life. It benefits adults and kids alike. A study conducted by the University of California reveals that cultivating gratitude can increase happiness levels by 25 percent. It can also help people to live happier, more satisfied lives. And enjoy increased levels of self-esteem, hope, empathy and optimism!
How to Practice 30 Days of Thankfulness As A Family
Download and printout the 30 Days of Thankfulness list for each person in your family. Then, sit down together and talk about gratitude. Make your own list of items and point out ones that were a life lesson for you. This helps children realize that we can turn negative experiences into positive ones. Explain to your kids that it’s OK to be thankful for material things but we also need to be thankful for other blessings as well.
Ask open-ended questions to continue a fun discussion and don’t be surprised if you receive insightful answers. Have older children fill out their own list. Help little ones by working on a list together.
Here’s my list this year. You are welcome to download and print out as inspiration!
For the next 30 days, reflect and give thanks for each item on your lists.
Don’t Stop There
The 30 Days of Thankfulness is a beautiful family tradition to adopt but don’t stop there. Continue to reflect on gratitude as a family. When one of your children begins complaining nonstop, ask them to name five things they are grateful for. When you begin complaining, stop yourself and list five things you are grateful for.
Keep a stack of thank you notes where they are accessible to everyone. Encourage your kids to write thank you notes to teachers at the end of the school year, coaches at the end f the season, families who host them for sleepovers and more. There are so many opportunities throughout the year for kids to thank those who have done something special for them.
And don’t forget to look for teachable moments. When kids can connect the concept of gratitude to a real-life situation, the lesson we’re teaching will be much more likely to stick.
A Grateful Spirit Everyday
One of the most humbling experiences in my life occurred in Zambia – a beautiful African country devastated by HIV and poverty. I had the pleasure of getting to know an orphan who had lost both of her parents to HIV complications. She and her siblings were living with extended family, sleeping on a dirt floor, struggling to stay in school and eat a full meal each day. But she was always smiling and she radiated joy.
On my last day in Zambia, I asked her how she always seemed so authentically happy, with everything she’s gone through and going through. She smiled and answered “I am blessed. God gives me the gift of a brand new day everyday. The sun is shining. Then the stars are shining. When they are not, God is blessing us with rain. Each new day is a gift of hope. I am blessed.” How powerful is that?