Finding Gratitude Through Good Manners
Being thankful is one of the keys to feeling happy, fulfilled, and successful. The eyes of gratitude find a bounty of blessings where others see barely enough. So how can we grow grateful grown-ups? We can raise mannerly children.
You may be wondering how manners and gratitude come together, but I assure you they are intricately connected. Manners are about so much more than learning to share or say please and thank you. That kind of politeness does serve us well in terms of getting along with others, and it might even help our children become star students or leaders in the workplace.
But the benefits go much further. Manners build muscles of patience, tolerance, compassion, self-confidence, and gratitude that help our spirits thrive. Mannerly people experience their world in a more wonder-filled way. Better yet, their inspired actions create waves of happiness that are passed on to others and can completely change the tone of someone’s day. Shift the tone for enough people, and the whole world will change. This is practical spirituality at its best!
Making Manners a Reflex
We reflexively reach for a fork or spoon when eating because we’ve been taught to use utensils. In the same way, mannerly people are reflexively kind. They naturally think of ways to help, they share their bounty and compassionately seek to ease others’ burdens without even having to try. It just becomes part of who they are.
Best of all, when your reflexive response is thank you, you are automatically more thankful. Just think of how different you feel about a request when someone begins with please. That simple word has the power to put everyone around it in a better mood.
It may seem like a small thing, but how many moments of grace can you see taking place simply because someone said thanks, shared ideas or resources, or maybe even held the door for someone carrying a load? It’s good manners, yes, but little else can change the trajectory of someone’s day as much as those small acts of kindness and courtesy. This is a spiritual power tool that leads to a more compassionate and grateful world. It’s nothing short of God in action.
So let’s lead by example. Families or groups can count their blessings together, even turning it into a fun competition to see who can find the tiniest thing to be grateful for, before expanding outward to the largest blessing they can imagine. Before diving in to eat, we can pause and express gratitude for everyone along the supply chain who provided the food we are about to enjoy. Moving together through any activity, we can set goals for helping others in new and different ways, seeing how many people we can create ease for.
Pitch in, share, show kindness and compassion, and you will become a living example of how to be the hands and feet of God. And let’s not forget to say thank you for every opportunity along the way. Our children will learn to reflexively do the same and together we will create a kinder, more mannerly, more compassionate, and wonder-filled world.
A Prayer for Thankfulness in All Children
As I pause in prayer, I feel a wave of gratitude swell up from my heart and expand outward. First, I thank every cell in my body for doing its job to keep me healthy and thriving. Then I move my awareness outward, envisioning all children realizing their blessings and expressing their gratitude in ways that demonstrate the activity of God. I see gratitude expanding and give thanks for it all.
A Shared Family Prayer for Thankfulness
We come together grateful for every blessing in our lives and for our divine impulse to share those blessings with others. We know it is impossible to outgive God, and for every gift we give, we receive blessings multiplied. In that prosperous spirit of giving, we say thank you, God, for all the blessings shared in the exchange.