I am enrolled in a class for educators to teach mindfulness to students. Last night’s session was all about gratitude. There are recent studies that prove keeping a gratitude journal for one week changes a person’s attitude and sense of happiness. It’s difficult to be sad when one is finding reasons to be grateful constantly. One of the articles we reviewed was how to teach students to be grateful for experiences more than material possessions. I completely understand this concept.
As a child my parents were middle class we did not have excess material possessions. Most of our big toys were used, so were our clothes unless my mom made them. I was not ashamed of this fact as a child. It taught me to appreciate those things we were given even more because we had to earn them. I don’t remember being obsessed with objects that I wanted. I remember being more grateful for moments; dancing in the backyard, playing with my pretend friend (Jamie), playing with neighborhood friends, sitting on my bed next to my window reading a book while the sunlight splashed across my face, hugging my Dad at the sign of peace, walking with my brother through the woods, making dance routines with my sister to show my parents, writing poetry, watching the sunset from my favorite tree, the smell of cinnamon bread on Christmas morning and the list goes on and on. As a mom I decided I did not want my children to want things. I wanted them to enjoy experiences, relationships, and time spent with others. I made sure that Santa kept his generosity to a minimum only bringing a few gifts. That my children only received one gift for Christmas or Birthdays from relatives and that they did not get toys and other things if it were not a holiday or special occasion. Instead they could save their money and earn a new toy. I want each one of my children to cherish time spent together, experiences of fun times, and joy because we are together not because of things we have.
Recently I was discussing with a coworker that I would rather have tickets to a concert, play, or a Broadway series, more than any object. Those experiences create memories I hope to recall for a lifetime. These times and moments give me thousands of reasons to be grateful in my life. Think about the experiences in your lifetime that bring you pleasure. I challenge you to write a journal of gratitude for experiences you savor for one week and see how it changes your attitude of gratitude.