Being new at Software for Good, I learned that one of the really cool things that we all participate in is a “Theme of the Week.” It’s a chance for us to take time away from coding/designing/managing/planning, look inside ourselves, and write a little bit about something that interests us or is simply “just on our minds.”
So, when I volunteered for this week’s TOTW, the first thing that came to my mind was gratitude. I looked back to see if there were any other TOTWs on gratitude and saw that Annie wrote one about a year ago. Hopefully she won’t be mad at me for continuing the thought! Annie, I promise, I’ve come up with some new material.
Annie is right: we are pretty blessed to have jobs, a roof over our heads, and clean water to drink. Most people agree that being grateful is one of the keys to happiness, but the idea of living a life of gratitude is often easier said than done. The living proof for me is how I have been trying to raise my two girls. They are smart, healthy, and witty (and yes, I am grateful for whom they are becoming). But as middle-schoolers, kids often forget to say “thank you” or “can I help you” and have a hard time remembering to be appreciative. As parents, we are often on their case about cleaning their room and doing their homework, but my wife and I are making a huge effort to teach gratefulness. But, can this really be taught? Or maybe better practiced?
Hopefully some of the lessons about gratitude will sink in as do many of life’s important teachings. I know that we are all about top 10s these days…SO, here are some ways I show gratitude and how I show my kids how they can do the same:
1. Appreciate the little things – Take a moment to enjoy things like fresh raspberries in the backyard, or a sunset at the cabin.
2. Keep a journal – Write down a few things to be thankful for each week. Writing it down makes it more real.
3. Say thank you – This one is easy! And can be practiced multiple times a day.
4. Volunteer – Get connected with the community in which you live or work.
5. Smile – I promise, a smile can light up a room.
6. Say hello – Slow down for a second and say hello, it has a bigger impact than you think.
7. Make time for friends – Spending time with friends and family (and pets!) will boost positive emotions, which will fuel a feeling of gratitude.
8. Give genuine compliments – As a designer, I really know how important it is when people compliment my work.
9. Meditate – Get rid of the noise in your head and focus on the important things…even for a few minutes each day.
10. Turn off the electronics and do all of the above – ‘nuff said.