RYC Youth Educator Jessica Lodato talked with Rye's 3rd graders about gratitude and ways in which we can all be more grateful.
Gratitude is about focusing on what is good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have and the people who are in it. It is pausing to notice and appreciate the things we take for granted.
The children agreed that because our lives are busy and always moving, it can be easy to take for granted things that are basic for us -- everyday things that other people may not have.
At first the children offered obvious examples, such as food, shelter and clothing. But then we took it a step further. Yes, we have food and some others don’t, but what about the fact that we scrape excess un-eaten food in the trash during our everyday routine of cleaning up? Or the fact that we are constantly told by our parents to turn off our lights to “save electricity,” when there are other people in the world who may not have electricity at all.
Gratitude matters for a myriad of reasons, and together, the children touched upon a few. Gratitude not only feels good, but it helps keep in balance those moments in our lives that can cause us sadness, pain or grief. Just like other positive emotions, feeling grateful on a regular basis can have a big effect on our lives. Brain research shows that positive emotions are good for our minds and our bodies. Lots of times one positive emotion leads to another, and then to another! When we are grateful and feeling positive, happy, calm or joyful, our minds are freed up to concentrate more, ask more questions, and to grow.
Gratefulness on everyone’s part has a positive effect on the world around us. When we feel grateful for someone’s kindness towards us, we may be more likely to be kind in return. The children explored how gratitude on our part can affect the actions of another person for the better. Having gratitude and expressing that gratitude can make it more likely for that person to repeat their kind behavior, and that can be an example for others to follow.So how do we grow more grateful?
One way in which we can be more grateful is by “building a gratitude habit.” Beautiful are those spontaneous moments when we are flooded with gratefulness, but we can also create feelings of gratitude by making a habit of counting the good things in our lives.
Here are some ideas:
As parents we need to remember that modeling on our part is one of the best ways to teach our children the qualities we wish to see in them. So the next time you are grateful, even for the slightest thing, say it out loud and share the moment.