This monthly column is to help parents, grandparents, and teachers introduce children to spiritual topics in the context of prayer. It includes a prayer for adults, one for children and adults to share, and a short affirmation for children to remember and take with them.
Gratitude Changes Everything
Gratitude is a superpower with seemingly magical properties.
When we’re feeling grateful, joy bubbles up from an endless well inside us. The day looks brighter and we feel lighter. Everything mysteriously lines up in wonderful and creative ways, so each hour can be seen and appreciated for the gift it really is. When we look through the lens of appreciation, what might have seemed to be barely enough multiplies and expands, becoming more than we realized we ever had.
By practicing gratitude, we are suddenly able to see through outside appearances and into the hearts of our friends and family. Everyone looks so different! Their unique beauty sparkles like precious jewels. Giving thanks for where we have been, memories are instantly transformed into treasures we will cherish. Through grateful eyes, life seems to go out of its way to help us toward success, and blunders have the power to become blessings.
But there’s more. As much as it may appear magical on the outside, an attitude of gratitude is like divine medicine on the inside. When we open to new ideas and new situations, our path feels smoother, even when there are bumps in the road. Learning new things seems easier, and what we know appears far more valuable.
Our spirit has the tools it needs to soar when we are thankful for the opportunities that life brings us. Happiness blossoms in fun and unexpected ways. Best of all, gratitude is free and right there inside us, easy to access at any time of the night or day.
So how do we strengthen our gratitude muscle or learn to live with an attitude of gratitude? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Adults and children can work together to add to the list. Try putting at least one new activity into rotation every month of the year.
Gratitude Jar: Decorate an empty jar, box, or bottle. Keep pieces of colorful paper and something to write with next to it. Record things you’re grateful for in words or pictures, and add them to the jar. Weekly, monthly, or whenever you need a lift, review some of your many blessings.
Gratitude Journal: Share thoughts and feelings with yourself. Use a tablet or computer, or maybe grab some paper. It can be index cards in a box, loose-leaf paper in a binder, a spiral notebook, or even a fancy bound journal just for you. For a few minutes every day, put words to your feelings about living a grateful life.
Thanks Lists: Wherever you are, take a moment to list everything you’re excited or joyful about. You can write it, type it, think it, say it, or sing it. See how creative you can be in recognizing new things every day!
Thank-You Notes: There is a special thrill that comes with grateful words expressed in writing, and finding a card in your mailbox is a uniquely enjoyable experience these days. Send a quick note of gratitude the old-fashioned way, snail mail.
Wonder Walk: Take a walk that focuses on all there is to appreciate in our world. Look up, down, and all around, breathing in blessings and breathing out gratitude.
Gratitude Rocks: Decorate rocks or other small items with words of encouragement, unity, and peace. As you move around your town, leave them in places where others can find them. You’ll make someone’s day!
A Prayer for Gratitude in All Children
I pause. Breathing deeply, I feel my way into my sacred heart space. Exhaling distractions, I focus on the feelings of appreciation. I allow waves of grateful energy to flow through my body and mind. I picture the energy of gratitude growing and expanding until it reaches every being on our planet. Knowing these moments spent in prayer can change the world for the better, I rest in my grateful heart.
A Shared Family Prayer for Gratitude
Joining hands and hearts, we call to mind our endless blessings and name some of them. Picturing everyone we know, we send them thanks. We allow the joy and excitement of future possibilities to bubble up within and feel grateful in advance for the joys yet to come.