There is a phrase I keep running across. I first heard it from a reporter talking about the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Then I read it in an article in a gardening magazine.  When I overheard a mom saying it to her child in the grocery store, I figured this is a giant hint from God.  As her child was bemoaning the fact he was stuck in the produce department instead of at home watching TV, his prophetic mother fixed him in the eye and said “Child, you need to get an ATTITUDE of GRATITUDE!”

Attitude of Gratitude? Attitude of Gratitude. Attitude of Gratitude!  I looked around me. I was surrounded by an abundant harvest of fruits and vegetables…and people looking annoyed.   Annoyed the store was crowded. Annoyed their child was crying.  Annoyed they didn’t have the specific brand of Organic Tomatoes they love.  Attitude of Gratitude.  The exhaustion I had been carrying after a long day at the office started to lift. 

We all go through our lives pulled in multiple directions. Stress from work, concerns for our family, worries about finances can all be overwhelming.  It is easy to say we should be grateful but what would happen if we actually lived a life of gratitude.

According to Dr. Robert Emmons professor  of Psychology at University of  California, Davis “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of  depression and stress.”  Dr. Emmons research has shown that people who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their life as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week (Emmons& McCullough, 2003). 

Children learn by example. They model our behavior.  If they hear us say “Thank you” and “Please” they will say it too.  If we begin the day with a smile instead of yelling for them to “Hurry Up,” they will carry that smile throughout the day.   If they see us help another person, practice random acts of kindness, praise instead of criticize they will do these things in their life.

If we can teach our children to practice grateful thinking it will help them learn grateful living.   Ask them to tell you the “high and the low” of their day.  Encourage them to say “thank you” and as they get older write “thank you” notes.  Before bedtime ask them to tell you three things that made them happy that day.   Most importantly, never forget to remind your children you are grateful for them!

Sandra Peak, M.D.,  joined Cook Childrens Physician Network in Lewisville in 2004. Dr. Peak enjoys gardening, yoga, and boating and in her spare time can be found at the lake with her husband Jay, stepson Sage and the world’s most amazing Lab, Sugar Mae.