One of the first things we learn about manners as a kid is to use our “please” and “thank yous” early and often. But we aren’t teaching it right, because everyone is doing it wrong and they’re doing it wrong in a variety of ways. So here’s a refresher on how not to effectively express true gratitude.
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Sometimes it’s hard to think about what’s good in your life. Weirdly, this even happens to people who you would say have a demonstrably better life than your own—more money, more friends, more status. That’s because gratitude isn’t necessarily a marker of actual life blessings — it’s more like a mutant ability to experience positive feelings more intensely than normal, according to an op-ed by Arthur C. Brooks for the New York Times.
It’s good to recognise what’s good in your life (even, and especially, when it seems as though the rest is terrible). But if you express that in the form of gratitude journals, prayers or meditation, you’re sort of making that feeling a solitary one. What about the people in your life you’re truly thankful for? Couldn’t you tell them how you feel?
Well, no, a lot of us might say. That sounds super awkward.
By now, we know how important it is to instill a sense of gratitude in our children - according to the book Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, those who practice thankfulness get better grades, have a lower risk of depression, and are more engaged in their hobbies and communities. And we're trying. Around the parenting sphere, there are countless posts about teaching kids to write thank-you letters, start gratitude journals, toss their daily joys into the gratitude jar, and list their blessings at the dinner table. All are completely worthwhile rituals. It seems like parents are becoming really intentional about cultivating gratitude in their homes - or at least about writing about it on the internet. As a mum, I sure would like to become more disciplined in this area. Who wouldn't?
Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker's weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.
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