Conscious Parenting with Meg Brown for BodyEcology.com
(Originally published on Thursday, November 27, 2008)
So, how was your day??
It feels like tough times, for many of us. You can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without absorbing bad news about the economy. For some people, the news is more than bad, and it doesn’t look like it will improve anytime soon.
When the world gets scarier than usual, we get tense, worried, argumentative and depressed. And we find ourselves saying things to our children such as, “We can’t afford that. I’m not made out of money!”
If we are not careful, we will pass on to our children the negative beliefs that we acquired growing up... beliefs about lack, limitation, poverty and struggle. You know what I’m talking about.
As conscious parents, let’s not give in to negativity and despair. Regardless of circumstances, we all have something in our lives worth celebrating.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a perfect time to teach our children about abundance, gratitude and generosity.
Five Ways to be Thankful
1. Re-examine Your Definition of Prosperity
What is prosperity? In what ways are you and your family rich?
This makes for a great dinner table conversation. Money in the bank is certainly one form of wealth, but there are many, many others.
Are your children healthy? Do you live in a warm and inviting home? Is your town blessed with parks and woodlands, lakes or beaches? Can you call on friends and family to support you in times of crisis?
Do you have food on the table, clean air to breath and a safe place to sleep at night? You are so blessed!
2. Play “Right This Minute”
Ground yourselves firmly in the now.
Think of something that is bothering one of you, then say aloud everything that is actually OK about that situation right this minute.
For example, I’ve played this game many times over the past year, as I've worked to heal longstanding digestive issues. Recently it brought a smile to the face of my youngest son when he was having tummy troubles of his own.
Whatever your aches and pains or injuries or disease, take a minute to give thanks for all of the parts of your miraculous body that DO work perfectly.
Say with gratitude, “Right this minute, my feet and ankles and legs and knees and hips feel great. Right this minute, my back and arms and shoulders and elbows and wrists and hands feel wonderful. Right this minute, my heart is beating for me, my lungs are breathing for me, my eyes are seeing for me, and my ears are hearing for me. Right this minute, I am thinking clearly, moving freely, feeling deeply and creating with my big, beautiful brain. Thank you!!”
You’ve got the idea.
3. Make Your Own Gratitude Journals
Gratitude journals are getting a lot of attention these days, as a means of developing a gratitude habit.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy journals. Have a family craft party and make your own. Take inexpensive spiral notebooks and decorate the covers with favorite photos and sayings. Protect them with a layer of clear contact paper.
Another option for craftier family members is to re-purpose an old, hardcover book.
You can write your gratitude entries on individual pieces of paper – the more varied in color, size and shape the better. When you are done writing, use a glue stick and affix it to a page in the book. You can paste in pictures of things you are grateful for as well – think of a beach scene from your favorite travel magazine, or a photo of your family at the dinner table.
The most important thing is to use them, regularly. Pick a warm, cozy spot to do this weekly. Remember, we are trying to develop a habit here.
4. Pay It Forward
You don’t have to be a millionaire to be a great philanthropist. Remember all those different forms of wealth and prosperity? Somewhere, there is someone needing just what your family has to give.
It might be a gift of your time, your attention, your skills or your unqualified acceptance and appreciation.
Can your family donate some time to a soup kitchen? Can you collect canned goods from your neighbors to bring to the local food bank?
How about spending some time at a local nursing home, reading to or visiting with the residents? Maybe you have an elderly relative of your own whose day would be transformed by an hour’s relaxed and attentive conversation.
Thank you notes are quickly becoming a lost art. Start a revival.
Pass out colorful note cards to each family member and take ten minutes to write a note of thanks to someone important in your life. You will feel good, and they will too!
5. Celebrate the Season
Reconnect with the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Rather than diving straight into the turkey and stuffing, take time to go around the table and share what you are most grateful for this year.
Ask the children to work together and prepare a special grace to read aloud.
Invite some new friends – or old ones who typically spend the holiday alone – to join your family celebration.
Be happy and silly.
Dress like a pilgrim. Have a healthy pie-baking (or healthy pie-eating) contest. Drag yourselves outside for a game of touch football. Whatever your favorite goofy activity, find a way to infuse your day with joy.
A Personal Note
Our family Thanksgiving tradition is to head “over the river and through the woods” to my parents’ house in Upstate New York. We will gather with my eight siblings, attendant spouses and children, and a changing mix of friends and other family.
I will be trying out my gluten-free, sugar-free pie recipes this year with my favorite healthy sweetener, Lakanto. Wish me luck and have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Read About The Healing Benefits of Gratitude: Robert Emmons began researching gratitude as a professor at the University of California, Davis in 1998. You can learn about his findings in, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier