Giving thanks is no longer just holiday fare. Concrete benefits come to those who literally count their blessings.
Gratitude works like a muscle. Take time to recognize good fortune, and feelings of appreciation can increase.
“The old adage that virtues are caught, not taught, applies here,” says University of California, Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. Parents need to model this behavior to build their children’s gratitude muscle. “It’s not what parents want to hear, but you cannot give your kids something that you yourselves do not have,” Dr. Emmons says.
“I think the most important thing for us adults to realize is we’re not very grateful either,” he says.
Further, teens who strongly connected buying and owning things with success and happiness reported having lower GPAs, more depression and a more negative outlook. “Materialism had just the opposite effect as gratitude—almost like a mirror,” says study co-author Jeffrey Froh, associate professor of psychology at Hofstra University.
A 2013 study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that tracked materialism in 355,000 high school seniors from 1976 to 2007 found that desire for lots of money has increased markedly since the mid-1970s, while willingness to work hard to earn it has decreased. Among kids surveyed, 62% thought it was important to have lots of money and nice things between 2005 and 2007, while 48% had this view from 1976 to 1978.
UC Davis’s Dr. Emmons believes gratitude is actually easier for kids. “As we get older, the give and take of life is driven by expectations around tit-for-tat reciprocity. Kids have a natural affinity to gratitude. They often teach parents as much or more about gratitude than the other way around.” – From WSJ
I’m very very grateful to the Universe for supplying me with the ability to paint in the rain, to be an “Artist in Residence”, friends that support my endeavors, and to have produced paintings that others like. I’m thankful for my “village” et al.