gary's blog pictureWith Thanksgiving fast approaching, gratitude will once again take its place at the center of our tables, nestled somewhere between the mashed potatoes and cranberry relish.  Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday and memories of the family coming together to share a meal in the midst of fun and laughter brings cherished thoughts to my mind.  Invariable at these gatherings gratitude became a topic of our family traditions and/or spiritual practices.

How does one acquire and “attitude of gratitude” Is it something that can be taught?  Why do some people exude gratitude while others appear not to have the word in their vocabulary and certainly not in their lifestyle?

I am thankful for the ‘world at my fingertips.’  When you  really become curious about a topic,   unlike days of old where you were dependent upon the nightly 30 minute news broadcast or if you were really industrious you could go to the public library where you would be dependent upon the Dewey Decimal system  or you would search,  search and search.  Today through the internet, exploration of the archives and topics of research can be attained instantaneously. In a moment of curiosity a review of the word gratitude and its implications revealed some astonishing results.

Studies show that grateful youth have higher GPAs; experience more positive emotions, and ultimately, go on to live more meaningful lives.  In addition, gratitude among young high school students foster an increased sense of hope and trust in others and fuel a desire to give back to their community.  Most of the research in this area comes from Giacomo Bono, professor at California State University.  Equally impressive information comes from the American Psychological Association suggesting that practicing gratitude at a young age promotes later development of self-control and self-regulation, ingredients for lifelong success.  One piece of research indicates exercising gratitude in the home helps children feel more connected to their parents and community.

An article that I have used on many occasions was written by a teenager and is entitled “Love me when I am most unlovable”. In order to achieve a teachable moment when you are trying to love in an unlovable moment, is to first ‘Praise” in other words show gratitude.  Secondly “Prompt” give the proper behavior and thirdly ‘Leave” don’t nag or shout but leave the situation.  The first part of this approach is most important. The more a teacher/ parent can practice gratitude in his or her own life the more it will become a part of who they are. Consequently, parents who practice an attitude of gratitude will create a bond that is never going to be undone.

Here is a challenge for you the reader.  Think back over your years when you were in school or at your place of employment, what one attribute caused you to be more productive, have a positive attitude and in general have a ‘good’ feeling about yourself?  Was it an ‘Attitude of Gratitude?”

Keep the light burning.






Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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