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Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. When you’re going through a truly rough patch in your life, or your kids are being extra challenging, giving thanks usually isn’t the first thing on your mind.

But over the past five years I’ve learnt lots of easy ways to practice gratitude. They don’t take much time and have brought me many wonderful benefits. For me, practicing gratitude is closely tied to slowing down, simplifying my life and finding more joy after a really shitty time.

I also think it’s important to involve your kids in the process and help them learn to become more grateful, too. 

What a wonderful thing for our kiddies to have these skills from a young age!

I’ve had a very strong ‘blessing ritual’ with my children for years. I can’t even remember when I started doing this with them. We’ve been doing it so long now it’s become habit and we all look forward to it every day.

Every morning before we leave the house for school run the three of us pray together, sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ and each give thanks out loud for three things we are blessed for.

This is a ritual that I particularly dug into last year when we were living in our van Evie. Although some days were hard, I still knew we had so much to be grateful for and I wanted the kids to feel that too.

The link between gratitude and joy

Researcher and author Brene Brown found an interesting link between gratitude and joy.

She says: “The relationship between joy and gratitude was one of the important things I found in my research. I wasn’t expecting it. In my 12 years of research on 11,000 pieces of data, I did not interview one person who had described themselves as joyful, who also did not actively practice gratitude.

“For me it was very counterintuitive because I went into the research thinking that the relationship between joy and gratitude was: if you are joyful, you should be grateful. But it wasn’t that way at all.

“Instead, practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.

“Practice is the part that really changed my life, that really changed my family and the way we live every day. When I say practice gratitude, I don’t mean “the-attitude-of-gratitude” or feeling grateful, I mean practicing gratitude.”

How to help your children be more grateful

A practice is something that you do repeatedly. The ‘blessing ritual’ I have with my kids is our way of turning gratitude into a practice. It’s something we’re so used to doing, that now it would feel weird not to do it! It’s just like eating breaky or brushing our teeth, it’s a normal part of our day.

The beauty of giving thanks is that there’s no wrong way to do it.

You might experiment with a few different methods of gratitude practice before you find the one that sticks. Because that’s the important part – finding your way of bringing gratitude into your life and consistently practicing it.

I’d also encourage you to welcome your kids into your regular gratitude practice or help them find their own way of expressing it. Sharing our blessing ritual every morning is such a gorgeous way to connect with my kids each day before they head off to school. It’s such a simple, yet special part of our day.

ReachOut is Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people and their parents. ReachOut recommends practicing gratitude, or appreciation for the good things that happen in life.

It says: “Gratitude, or appreciation for the good things that happen in life, is an essential part of building happiness. When you’re going through a tough time it can be hard to remember to be grateful for the good stuff, but there are a stack of benefits that can be gained from working gratitude into your everyday life.

“Increasing your gratitude is useful because:

·        it’s an instant mood booster and feels great in the moment

·        you’re likely to feel closer to friends and family

·        you’re likely to enjoy your life more

·        it’s good for your physical health

·        it’s easier to cope with tough times

·        good things in life don’t stick in our heads as easily as bad events

“This last point is really important. We tend to remember when bad things happen, and the time we spend thinking about them makes us unhappy. But, if we make an effort to increase how often we experience gratitude, it can balance out some of the negative stuff.

Easy ways to practice gratitude

“That doesn’t mean that you should ignore/forget your problems, or that the things wrong with your life are unimportant. It just means that good memories will also stick in your mind, so you get to enjoy them for longer.”

There’s no right or wrong way to practice gratitude. It also doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. Here are a few ways you could introduce gratitude into your day. There are some ideas here that you could make a daily practice and others are suggestions to give thanks in other ways as well. All that gratitude adds up!

Simple gratitude practices:

·        Start a gratitude journal. Jot down each day a few things you’re grateful for.

·        Create a ritual with your family. It might be going around the dinner table in the evening and everyone saying one thing they’re grateful for before starting your meal.

·        Take photos of things that bring you joy. You can look back on them and feel grateful for the happiness they bring you.

·        When you get into bed each night, take five deep breaths and say (aloud or to yourself) three things you are grateful for.

·        Download a reputable Gratitude Journal app. There are several different types available that have prompts to help you reflect on things you appreciate

·        Write thank you notes to people, it may be your child’s sports coach or teacher, or a family member or friend who has done something nice for you.

·        Leave a positive review for a restaurant or small business that gave you good service

·        Read motivating books or blog articles that make you feel thankful.

·        Help someone carry their groceries or open a door for someone who has their hands full – feel their gratitude towards you!

Do you practice gratitude and if so how? If not, what is it that you find tricky with this practice? Will you leave a comment below and let me know how you embrace it as part of your day?

As a digital educator, minimalist and slow living advocate, I think gratitude goes hand-in-hand with slowing down and embracing a more simple life.

Would you like to slow down in your life too? 

It might seem impossible, but I promise, you can slow down. I’d love to help you kick-start your slow-down journey. I’m super excited to share some easy, practical lessons you can implement in your life right now. If you are keen to slow down but not sure where to start, join in with my free challenge here. This is an opportunity for you to experiment and find your most suitable way for regularly initiating self love into your life.

Grab the rules for #hiddysslowdowndare here and become part of my beautiful, supportive online community as we simplify our lives and focus on our mission to slowing down and saying goodbye to the rush, once and for all!  Make slowing no longer a hassle for you, but rather, part of your everyday.

Thank you so much for being here and for adding your perspective. I love to hear how you feel and what you think.

Blessings, Hiddy xx

P.S. Please share this post with someone you love, because they might be in need of some slowing fun today too!

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