Are Grateful People Happier?
What is one of the common traits amongst happy people?
It’s not how much money they have. And it’s not where they live.
It’s not how big or how small their family is.
It’s not even how healthy they are.
The trait that happy people always seem to possess, the trait that they always seem to have in common, is gratitude.
Is gratitude something we are naturally born with? Perhaps.
But more often than not, gratitude is taught. Either by our parents/guardians, or by another respected adult.
The Psychology of a Grateful Person
A study is described on PsychologyToday.com.
In this study, adults were divided into 3 groups. One group was asked to write consistently about good things in their lives (a gratitude journal), one group was asked to write about problems and annoyances in their lives, and the final group was asked to write about neutral topics.
At the end of the study, those in the gratitude group reported feeling more positive and optimistic about their lives as a whole. They also reported feeling healthier and had fewer physical symptoms.
In short, they were happier!
How to Instill Gratitude at a Young Age
Have you ever been forced to interact with a spoiled child?
I have spent a great deal of time around kids in my day. I have been teaching kids of all backgrounds for years.
Some of these kids have been a joy to work with. Even now, more than a decade later, I can still bring to my mind the names and faces of a few particularly pleasant children to work with.
I can also bring to mind a few who were less than pleasant to work with. Spoiled, you might say.
These spoiled kids, to put it kindly, were no fun to be around.
They were attention hogs. Plain and simple. And they did whatever it took to get the attention they craved.
Acting out, interrupting, sometimes even bullying.
Did these unpleasant children ever once show me any signs of gratitude? Not that I can remember.
But these pleasant children. The ones that were a joy to teach and so much fun to be around. These children all shared one thing – they were grateful!
They were grateful for the lessons I taught them each day. And they told me so. They were often heard speaking positively to their friends about the good things in their lives.
These kids (as a general whole) were no better or worse off than their spoiled counterparts. But they had a knack for searching for the parts of their lives worth being grateful for. And they did so conscientiously.
But how? How can we teach kids to be grateful?
Especially when dealing with children who have gone far too long without this lesson, this task may seem especially daunting. But it can be done!
Gratitude Journals Create Habits of Gratitude
Something I have done with my own children is encourage them to keep (and write in regularly) a gratitude journal.
Writing daily in a gratitude journal is a great way to create a habit of gratitude. And when you have a habit of gratitude, it is much easier to look on the bright side of life. The silver lining, so to speak. Which in turn makes for a happier person.
You can find a great gratitude journal for kids here.
Kids who are too young to write in a journal can draw a picture of what they are grateful for instead.
Keeping a daily gratitude journal will train up your mind in searching for things to be grateful for. Nobody has a perfect life. But all of us have a multitude of good things in our lives if we only take the effort to look.
More Tips on Being Grateful
I talked to a handful of experts (teachers and parents) and gathered their top tips on how to raise grateful children. Here is what they had to say.
My mom had a gratitude frame where she put things she was grateful for. ticket stubbs, reciepts, pictures and such.Melissa M.
A great way to show kids how blessed they are is to serve some one else. Have them serve in the soup kitchen, or visit the hospital. This really helps them realize how good they have it.Danette S.
For every complaint we made, we had to verbally give thanks for 3 things.Melissa C.
These are great tips, some of which I have applied in my own family as well as with those I have taught. But the most important tip would probably be this – Model Gratitude.
When you model gratitude in your own life, you are showing those around you that you are a grateful person.
The people in your life (adults and children alike) will begin to make the connection between your attitude of gratitude and your happiness. And those who want to be happier will start modeling themselves after you.
It’s easy to learn to be more grateful. Which means it can be easy to learn how to be happier too.