The Benefits of Gratitude for Moms
I discovered the benefits of gratitude in the midst of my time as a mother of small children. Our finances weren’t great and I felt burnt out almost all the time. I told myself I’d be happier when ____. You know, when the kids were older, when our finances were better, when the baby weight was gone, etc. It’s the same thing many of us tell ourselves as we push through a difficult season.
When Oprah talked about her daily habit of gratitude journaling, I felt skeptical. Was I supposed to believe that practicing gratitude would magically make me happy? Expressing gratitude seemed like something I should do, but I had a lot of ‘shoulds’ to accomplish each day. I didn’t need more things on the Should List.
But, I grabbed a half-used notebook and a pen and jotted down a few things. I easily thought of three things: I’m grateful my children are healthy, I’m grateful we have food, I’m grateful for my family. Done.
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How I Developed a Daily Practice of Gratitude
I didn’t come back to the notebook for several days. Then a near miss on the highway sent me running to record my gratitude for the safety of my children and myself.
Several weeks later a few dollars found in an old purse warranted recording in my gratitude journal.
Eventually, I purchased a lovely gratitude journal (this one) to up my gratitude game. The practice took discipline. Some nights I repeated my old standbys: I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful for my home, I’m grateful for a full fridge. Other nights I felt overwhelmed with appreciation as I realized that little by little I’d created a life that I used to dream about.
As my children grew and life became busier I let my nightly gratitude journaling habit slip to a few times per week. Still, the habit of practicing gratitude stuck. I’d become accustomed to looking for things to be grateful for. Even when I journaled nothing I still I practiced gratitude in my head throughout the day.
Thankfulness is Not Just for Thanksgiving
The holiday season brings out gratitude like no other season. Often we run down the list in a yearly Thanksgiving ritual. We name the most obvious things to be thankful for: our health, a roof over our heads, food to eat, etc.
Those things are absolutely worth our deepest gratitude. Every luxury we have from the shoes on our feet to the smartphone in our hand deserves gratitude. It’s easy to express gratitude for the material things we hold dear. But what about the people in our lives?
Practicing gratitude is about more than being thankful for our stuff. It’s about feeling appreciation for people, as well. Yes, even the difficult people in our lives.
Gratitude Changes Relationships
Sure, we say we’re thankful for our family and friends, but how often do we express heartfelt appreciation for our loved ones? How often do we complain about those we’re closest to instead of focusing on why we’re glad to have them around?
Since I began keeping a gratitude journal, I’ve not only experienced positive changes in the areas of health and finances, but I’ve seen my relationships change for the better, as well. The power of gratitude works to heal and maintain relationships.
The Power of Gratitude in Marriage
As a former therapist, I know the people most likely to frustrate you are those you’re closest to. Familiarity really does breed contempt if you let it. (Contempt is a marriage killer.)When I struggled to find happiness during a difficult season, I often neglected to express appreciate for my husband. No one received more of my lack of gratitude than he did.
Thankfully, we’ve moved past those difficult years. Still, we’ve got an up-close view of each others’ flaws. It’s easy to slip into discontent from time to time. I practice intentional gratitude for my husband to keep a soft heart and a loving marriage.
When I think of why I’m grateful for my husband, the power of gratitude takes over. Suddenly, I feel joy exploding from my heart for the man he is. New reasons for gratitude toward him keeping popping into my mind as I write in my gratitude journal.
Once the stream of gratitude starts, it’s difficult to stop. When I’m in sync with my husband I’m a better mother.
The Power of Gratitude for Motherhood
They say motherhood is a thankless job, but maybe that’s because we don’t teach our children how to be grateful. How much time do you spend each day focused on how grateful you are for your little ones? Are you setting an example of gratitude?
Children keep us busy and, frankly, there isn’t a lot of time to think about why we’re grateful for them. However, when I began keeping track of those small moments where my heart was touched by my children, I realized how simple it is to practice gratitude.
Gratitude is powerful for me as a mother because it helps me to look past the thankless parts of motherhood and focus on the ways that my children have shaped me as a person. I have a greater spiritual awareness because of my children. I’ve become a kinder person because of my children. My children have taught me how to take pleasure in the simple things, thereby increasing the amount of joy I feel on a daily basis.
My children have picked up on my habit of practicing gratitude and it has led to wonderful things such as a unprompted thank yous for dinner each evening. It has even helped them to power through tough times because they realize how much they have to be grateful for.
The Power of Gratitude Will Make the World a Better Place
So often on social media we see the worst of people. Whether it’s news articles about people behaving badly or comments that incite negative emotion, it can be tough to see the best in people if you spend too much time on social media.
We can change that, though! We can help spread love, joy and gratitude around the world. In fact, we can use the very devices that often keep us from connecting with others to create a loving connection,
Instead of sharing negative news and memes, share something positive and uplifting. Share things that prompt gratitude. Share what you appreciate.
If you fear being called a Pollyanna, be grateful that you can feel appreciation and gladness where others cannot. Positivity is a gift that enhances physical and emotional wellness.
The Power of Gratitude Can Heal Relationships
When you begin to record your daily gratitude, it will be easy to think of the people with whom you have a good relationship. You may struggle to feel gratitude for those people in your life who are more difficult to love.
Still, I encourage you to focus on how loving the challenging folks makes you a stronger, braver person. It doesn’t mean you don’t keep appropriate boundaries with those who behave with malice toward you. Of course, you should keep yourself physically and emotionally safe. It simply means looking at your own personal growth and being thankful for what your most frustrating relationships have taught you about yourself and others.
I don’t know about you, but every single difficult relationship I’ve had has made me more aware, more boundaried, more mature, and thus safer in future relationships.
I challenge you to think of at least one way you’re grateful for the people with whom you are struggling right now. This small act can set off a chain of gratitude that can heal even the most difficult relationships.
Moms Pass Along the Benefits of Gratitude
A mom who finds the benefits of gratitude in her own life will inevitably pass those benefits on to her children. This positively affects not only her children but their friends, their future partners, and their future children.
Moms who experience the wellness benefits of gratitude are in better physical and emotional shape to properly care for their families.
One small act of writing what you’re grateful for each day has a lovely ripple effect on the world around you.
I’ve created a free printable gratitude journal to get your started on your gratitude practice today.