Creating a Culture of Gratitude in Your Family

Next week we will celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday dedicated to being thankful and expressing gratitude for what we have been given.

Scientists have actually found that gratitude improves physical health. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Scripture repeatedly reminds us to be thankful to God, like this simple verse from Colossians 4:2: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

At your Thanksgiving meal, you might dedicate time to expressing thanks to God, but that attitude can be kept up all year long. If you would like to cultivate a culture of gratitude in your family, here are some tips:

Play “highs and lows” at dinner

Encourage your family to share their daily “highs and lows” each evening at dinner. This simple activity will help kids to keep their bad times in perspective, and express gratitude for the “highs” of each day. (This is a simplified version of the spiritual discipline of the daily examen, a great practice for the adults in your family to do.)

Encourage kids to keep a gratitude journal

Gratitude journals are another activity that scientific research has tied to better emotional health. Encourage your family (adults, too!) to keep a record of what they are thankful for each day. Younger kids can even draw instead of writing.

Rehearse What You Know of God

Psalm 42:6 MSG says, “When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.” Your family will always face hard times. How can you use those difficult seasons (like the one we’re currently in!) to remember God’s goodness? When you and your family face a tough time, be purposeful about recounting God’s goodness in the past. How has God led your family through difficult times? Lead your family in a pray of thanks for God’s work in the past. This simple activity can help build resiliency and trust in God into your family.

Remember in expressing gratitude, to always tie it to God’s goodness and grace. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18