I recently wrote, “Are We Rich?“. I want to dive deeper into part of that post. Giving is a topic that has come up numerous times. I genuinely believe that giving helps you feel more wealthy, and there is data to back this claim.
I want double down on this topic — the practice of gratitude.
As mentioned in my post, feeling rich or poor has a lot to do with comparing ourselves to others. That feeling is also tied into how we categorize our needs vs our wants. For example, if we feel like we need more stuff, we will often feel poorer. It is especially challenging for our children who are exposed to so much marketing. Being surrounded by friends who have the latest games, name brand clothes, or the newest wearable tech only compounds these feelings of lack.
How do we combat that feeling of need? Gratitude. There is a growing body of data that shows that gratitude changes the mind and body in positive ways.
Enter the Practice of Gratitude
To combat that feeling of “I need more”, it is helpful to reflect upon how fortunate we are. I don’t journal often, but when I do, I start by writing about what I appreciate. It unusually revolves around family and friends, but not always. I will write about how I’m grateful for my home, our vacations, and the good fortune I have had that day or week.
You may have taken the time to think about where you want to be 10 years from now. But how often have you thought about where you had hoped to be ten years ago? When you reflect, you may find that you have a lot to be grateful for today. It is through this practice of reflecting on our good fortune, that hopefully we can remember how much. In time, this habit replaces the constant thinking about how much we want or do not have.
Have your Kids Practice
For my kids, we do this at bedtime. As we are talking about our day, one of the questions I ask is, “what are you grateful for?” What I enjoy about this moment is that we get to hear what our kids are thinking. We listen to what they appreciate about our actions towards them. “I appreciated that you played x with me” is always a heartwarming one. We also get to use this moment to tell our kids the things that they do that we appreciate — the things we may have overlooked in the moment. “I appreciate that you cleaned up after breakfast without me having to ask “, for example. We also get to show them that we’re grateful for our connections to our friends and family and the material things that we have in our lives.
I can’t say that so far I have noticed any change in their level of desire for material things, but I’m hoping with time it may. The hope is that I can point back to some of the things that they mentioned in their night time reflections when they start talking about how much they want/need something new. Good luck convincing me you are in desperate need of something if just we talked about all the things that you have in your life for which you are grateful.
Do you practice gratitude journals or gratitude reflections with your kids? If you do, have you noticed any difference in their level of desire before and after you started? Have you noticed a difference in yourself? Let me know?