(A quiet morning moment before the girlies wake up…The perfect time to practice a little gratitude, yes?)
With just over a week until Thanksgiving, our friend Galit Birk, PhD talks about the importance of acknowledging gratitude (and doing so well beyond Turkey day). Plus she shares some of her favorite techniques for starting your own regular practice of giving thanks.
By Galit Birk
November is here! And though in Dallas, the leaves have only just begun to change color and fall from the trees, the spirit of Thanksgiving is already all around us. In a few weeks we will be sitting at the table, surrounded by friends and family, feasting on a giant turkey and on all the treats of the holiday. In my family we also go around the table and share one thing we are grateful for each year. What a wonderful tradition this is. But why stop (or start) there? There is no better time, than in this month of thanks, to begin a gratitude practice.
We each have so much to be grateful for, yet as we get stuck in our daily grind and inevitable life challenges, this becomes harder to see. According to the Parent Coaching Institute, “what you focus on grows,” and so I encourage all of my parent coaching clients to begin a gratitude practice in order to bring forth into conscious awareness all of which is working, all of which they appreciate, all that they are grateful for – not once a year, but every single day.
Though some are reluctant at first, most of my clients have shared that they continue this practice even after we complete our coaching series. Once they get in the practice of taking a few moments each day to appreciate their kids, themselves, their family, their life and to tap into all that they are grateful for, they begin to experience their lives more fully and to appreciate more than they ever noticed before. A new world opens up when we focus on all that we have to be grateful for, rather than on all that is not working or is not as we think it should be. If “what we focus on [indeed] grows,” then we must focus more on all that is good and working as opposed to all that is not. If we take our gratitude practice a step further and share our appreciations with our children for example, amplifying to them what is good and working and appreciated rather than what is not, we will likely start to see more of that which we wish for with them as well.
In order to be a true practice, you must be consistent, but your gratitude practice has to work for you so commit to a method that is doable. I personally like the one-sentence-a-day journals in which there is writing space for one sentence or a few short ones to convey the daily gratitude (they have a good selection at Barnes and Noble). I also use an iPhone app called Day One, which I refer to as my no-excuse gratitude journal since it’s always with me! The app is great because it also sends me reminders when I slack off, which I admittedly do from time to time.
I start each of my entries with some version of “grateful for, love, or appreciate” and each day looks different. This week I loved waking up to my son snuggling with me in bed, I appreciated him for being a sweet loving child, I was thankful for the health and safety of my friends and family in NYC who were affected by Hurricane Sandy, and I appreciated myself for my commitment to my 6 a.m. boot camp class! You can also start your practice on Facebook if this helps to keep you accountable. At the start of November, one of my former clients started a “Month of Thanks” daily status update. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are focusing on what is vs. isn’t working.
And so as Thanksgiving approaches, I invite you to join me in saying thanks in this month of thanks, and starting your own gratitude practice. What are you grateful for today? I am grateful for you, my readers, for letting me share of myself with you!
Happy (early) Thanksgiving,
Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® who walks folks through parenting with wisdom and grace in her private practice CORE Parent Coaching.