Beyond “Thank you”: Nurturing Gratitude and Abundance
On Sunday I introduced the idea of abundance by having children name things there are a lot of of. I asked them to think about air – something all around us and essential to our every moment that we don’t give a lot of thought to. As we talked about how it felt to know that we need air every moment, one of the kindergartner’s eyes lit up as he said, “there is so much air! It is in the wind and everything!” He was marveling at something we often take for granted.
No matter our age, human nature tends to focus on what we lack, rather than what we have. Gratitude is closely linked with an attitude of abundance. As it turns out, gratitude has four parts: Notice- Feel – Think – Do. Parents generally emphasize the doing part by encouraging kids to say thank you. This week you are invited to foster a sense of awareness of the abundant life, hope, love and peace that surround us.
Psalm 107 begins, ““Give thanks to the Lord because [God] is good, because [God’s] faithful love lasts forever!” (Note: I’ve changed “He” to “God” to be gender neutral). Set aside a time each day for each family member to name what they are grateful to God for. Read verses 1 and 35-41 of Psalm 107 after you have named what you are thankful for.
Foster an awareness of gratitude and authentic expression of thanks using these Notice-Feel-Think-Do questions from the Greater Good website:
NOTICE: What have you been given or what do you already have in your life for which you are grateful? Are there gifts behind the material gifts for which you are grateful, like someone thinking about you or caring about you enough to give you the gift?
THINK: Why do you think you received this gift? Do you think you owe the giver something in return? Do you think you earned the gift because of something you did yourself? Do you think the gift was something the giver had to give you? If you answered no to these questions, then you may be more likely to be grateful.
FEEL: Does it make you feel happy to get this gift? What does that feel like inside? What about the gift makes you feel happy? These questions help the child connect their positive feeling to the gifts that they receive in their lives.
DO: Is there a way you want to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you have about this gift make you want to share that feeling by giving something to someone else? Prompting children after experiences of gratitude in order to motivate acts of gratitude, whether they be acts of appreciation or paying it forward, may help children connect their experiences and actions in the world.
Flash Prayers are quick prayers you can say anytime. Whenever you notice God’s love for you and the world, take a second to say, “Thank you, God,” or “Wow, God!” Though brief, flash prayers help us think about God throughout our day. God delights in authentic prayer – not the word count!