If you have ever had a child, relative or neighbor who was entering that difficult age of teenager and pre-teen you have likely been subjected to the unending grips and complaints they have about life in general. School is hard, their friends aren’t nice, their siblings get on their nerves and their parents don’t have a clue.
A colleague’s niece, Samantha was going through this phase when her parents decided to make a shift – or better – show her how to make a shift from thinking her world was miserable and unmanageable to a place of love and gratitude. Telling her to just do it would have made matters worse. Instead they decided to gradually help her make the shift and they started at the dinner table.
Each night they were able to have dinner together as a family they would each take a turn sharing what was the best part of their day. It didn’t have to be a revelation or grand gesture that made them appreciative it could be as simple as “Johnny didn’t try to block my locker before fifth period and make me late for class.” At first Samantha saw this ritual as a chore. She begrudgingly said something, anything to get passed her turn at the table. There were times when her parents and siblings called her bluff and made her dig a little deeper for something more significant for which to be thankful.
As time went by Samantha started to make a conscious effort to look for and remember what was great about her day because she knew she would be called upon to share it that evening. Gratitude became part of her focus. She sought it out, thought about it and held onto it the whole day, in anticipation of dinner. On many occasions Samantha would even start the evening discussion because she was anxious to share her “what was great” moment. There were also days in which she had several grateful moments of her day.
What was happening with Samantha happens to all of us when we shift our focus from what seems out of control and difficult to what’s great and truly worthy of our attention. Her attitude about life, about her friends and about her family changed. She was a happier child who began participating more in the classroom and joined school-sponsored activities such as theatre and recreational sports. The quality of her friends changed for the better and instead of taking up space in her own life, she was living a joyful, grateful and thoughtful life.
What we focus on becomes our consciousness which has a power beyond our analytical mind. It becomes who we are and that is who we share with others.
Do you have children who could benefit from this daily shift in focus? Is it you who needs to remember to look for the “what was great” moments in your life? I would love for you to share your grateful moments with our community here in the comments section. If you have a similar habit you’ve found that helps you stay focused on gratitude, please let us know.