Dennis Prager says, “Gratitude is the most important element to a person’s happiness.” The dictionary defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful and being ready to show appreciation for and return kindness.
As a woman after 50, I believe gratitude is a mindset that can be learned through one’s experiences. Being thankful and giving back is important for your emotional and physical well-being. I am of the attitude that to fully feel thankful, you must be a grateful and humble person.
Grandmothers have the ability to instill a mindset of gratitude when they share time with their grandchildren. Thanksgiving is a few weeks away; a perfect time to show ‘thanks and giving’.
A mindset of gratitude
I recently received an email from a young woman who has loved reading my stories from halfway across the world (she’s also a writer). She wrote:
“Just a thought before I go to bed. When we spoke I wrote down the power of appreciation in my notebook. I think I did so after you said you choose never to complain about having Cancer, losing a husband, and other things that happened to you. In a way, this is something magical. Perhaps your good luck to survive Cancer and meet your ultimate concierge came to you because you choose to appreciate, to be thankful for what you already had, and not complain. The Universe works that way. It gives more when we stop wanting more.”
It was after reading this message that I had a moment of clarity. I realized that defining gratitude had been plaguing me since I began writing this very blog, not in a bad sense, but in a questioning one. For the longest time I could not put my finger on who taught me to be a grateful woman; to feel utter joy in giving thanks and giving back.
Something in my daily life can occur and I think, “How am I so fortunate to experience such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude? And why is it that others can’t? It was not until I read and reread the young writer’s words that I finally understood. I came to the conclusion that one’s feeling of gratitude is about attitude. It is a mindset.
The beginning of my enlightenment
Gratitude was learned at my mother’s knee. She never told me to be grateful. She let me experience gratitude when she gave me my first box of thank you note cards with a pretty pink pencil. I printed my first thank you note with her help when I was just 7 years old. Every gift I received from age 7 on, no matter how small the gift, was followed up with a thank you note. I passed the tradition on to my children and they have passed it on to their children.
Have you passed this on to yours?
When we were out with one another I would listen to her say thank you to everyone who helped her and made her happy. I saw her help others. A mother sets an example. A grandmother seals it. A child follows in their footstep.
My mother never told me to be grateful. She instilled a mindset of thankfulness instead. It wasn’t long before I began to feel joy when I expressed my appreciation to others. My mother spoiled me with her teachings. I was blessed to have this mother of mine.
Grandmothers can teach children of all ages the attitude of gratitude
- Ask your grandchildren to name some of their blessings
- Tell them your stories.
- Buy them a box of thank you notes, a pen, and a roll of stamps.
- Write them a note on the importance of appreciation.
- Set an example
- Resist the urge to shower them with material items. Shower them with your values.
- If you are separated by miles send notes to enlighten them about the specialness of feeling grateful.
- Show them the value of giving back. Buy them books. I still have the book I gave my children, The Giving Tree.
- Tell them how grateful you are to have them!
It has been 14 days since I was last with my mother. She passed away on the first day of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.
And yet, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am the daughter of this mother of mine.
I am overwrought with grief… I will never hear her voice say I love you, see her smile, feel her touch and kisses, hear her hearty laugh.
So I’ve decided to keep her legacy in my home with a candle lit and one fresh flower, delivered to my home weekly, in my beautiful bud vase, to honor this mother of mine …maybe for my lifetime. I am a grateful daughter.
How do you show appreciation?
Living life with a thankful heart is one of the best gifts we can give to others and ourselves. Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite way to show appreciation and thankfulness.
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