Gratitude is my focus for 2020. Some may ask what has this got to do with my work. Well I feel over the last seven years since becoming a mother I have evolved and continued to grow as a parent. I don’t think you ever wake up feeling like you have nailed it. In many ways I feel so fortunate. There are days where I ask myself questions such as; is this it? am I a good mother? and should I be doing more? I often have other days that are groundhog days, routine, repeat, routine and repeat. I have come to the conclusion all people experience this, old, young, female and male. However, it is how we respond to these thoughts that can shape us.

My own mother gave me Hugh van Cuylenberg’s ‘The Resilience Project finding happiness through gratitude, empathy and mindfulness’ for Christmas. Initially I didn’t know how I felt about this book and wondered what the underlying message was! Knowing my mother there would have been research and interest. It was an added bonus to find out three of us had been given this book. Well I was totally wrong by my first impression as I started to read it, I could not put the book down. The kids had to fend for themselves so I could finish it. I was fascinated by the strong links between gratitude and mental health and how I as a parent can play a role in helping my children and myself to practice gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. It is a great read if you want to understand these principles further.  

After reading this book I have been listening to lots of podcasts. I have particularly enjoyed the work of Dr Justin Coulson Happy Families. Dr Justin explores many topics and issues which we all address in daily life

10 reasons to practice gratitude

  1. Experience higher levels of positive emotions such as happiness, love and enthusiasm
  2. Improves your sleep
  3. Builds emotional resilience
  4. Kinder and more generous with others
  5. Increase energy levels and overall motivation
  6. Less likely to be lonely
  7. Good mental health
  8. Improves the success of your career
  9. Improves the quality of romantic relationships
  10. Helps break negative habits and cycles in your life

There is an abundance of research to support these reasons. I am not an expert in the field but it is certainly an area of interest for me. So now we know why we should practice gratitude, its now up to how we do it. Some simple strategies i have implemented is ask my kids daly is;

  • What are you grateful or thankful for today?
  • What did you see, feel or hear in nature today?

My youngest said he was grateful for the water when he did a big bomb in the pool. Another child added the wind in my face when I went for a bike ride….

I have noticed that my children will often tell me about something they have observed during the day without being prompted. I know on some days if I ask them outright, they will say they need a rest from the questions! So, we are definitely not perfect but small steps they say! Within myself, it does give me a buzz when I take the time to thank someone or participate in a small act of kindness. 

Overall gratitude is being able to acknowledge and recognize all of the good things we have in our lives and being able to focus on this.