Every year on September 21st World Gratitude Day takes place. It is the perfect opportunity to remind us to step back and think about what we are thankful for. According to numerous studies from the world of positive psychology, gratitude is one of the most important ways for us to get a happiness boost and provides us with so many wonderful psychological, physical, and interpersonal benefits.
Robert Emmons, the world’s foremost researcher on gratitude, says that expressing what we are thankful for has many benefits including feeling less stressed, improved sleep, fewer physical problems, less regular visits to the doctor, and longer lives (by an average of around seven years).
When we count our blessings, we interrupt the cycle of negative and fearful thoughts, which allows the stress system in our bodies to recover. Research shows that when we are thankful, we love our lives and want to make sure we stick around long enough to enjoy them. Also, when we receive praise from others, our brain releases the chemical dopamine, which encourages us to do more to receive such praise. This makes us want to thank others and make them feel good as well.
Therefore, gratitude is definitely something that we want to pass on to our kids. It helps to inspire them and fill their minds with meaning. In a sense, it is a kind of a gift that we can give them to make their lives better.
Enjoy these 10 fun ways to celebrate World Gratitude Day with your children. I hope that these ideas inspire you to make gratitude part of your lives every single day of the year.
1. Play the alphabet gratitude game.
2. Show appreciation to others by sending thank you notes.
3. Encourage your children to start a gratitude journal. Keeping a gratitude journal has been shown to increase our sense of happiness by forcing us to acknowledge the positive moments in our day, no matter how insignificant they may seem. Whether it is a smile from a stranger, a good grade on a test, a gift from a relative, or an awe-inspiring sunset, we begin to feel calmer and more joyful by appreciating these experiences. You can really get creative with the type of journal you make, from collages to videos to drawings and paintings.
4. Take your children to awe-inspiring places that will spark an appreciation for the beautiful wonders of the world. Check out these fun ideas to bring more awe into your family’s life.
5. Connect with your children on the ride home from school by asking them what happened during their day that they are grateful for.
6. Make gratitude a part of your children’s bedtime routine by going around the room and saying one thing each of you is thankful for that day. It is such a special time that you can share together.
7. Eat together as if it were Thanksgiving every night. Enjoy your time with your family and encourage your children to tell you all about their day and the things they are grateful for. Some families find it helpful to put together a gratitude jar to collect their thankful statements all year, and then they can go through everything they wrote each year on Thanksgiving or New Year’s.
8. Give your time by helping others and volunteering as a family, which will teach your children to recognize and be grateful for the positive aspects of their own lives. Learn how to choose the best volunteer activities for your family.
9. Make time to be grateful for our natural environment. I am actually working on a book right now all about how nature helps our children feel happier and calmer. One of the chapters focuses on being grateful for nature and how that makes us feel better. Be the first to know when the book is available!
10. Read books about gratitude with your children. Check out my book review about My Grateful Book by Diana Smith, and enjoy these other books about gratitude, too.
How will you celebrate World Gratitude Day?