Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude and Generosity

by Jody McVittie, MD, Executive Director, Sound Discipline,
 Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer and Parent Coach

As the leaves begin to turn vibrant colors and then fall we enter the season of short days and longer nights. It is also, for many of us, a season of holidays and traditions. It can be both exciting and stressful for families. Now, before things start moving really quickly is a time to pause and think about what you might want to remember. Traditions are important for families – partly because in the ritual “doing” we come to a place of finding out who we are and who we are connected to. Consider for a moment, what you will want to remember being instead of what you want to remember doing. One thing that many traditions have in common (and you can start your own) is the sense of gratitude and generosity. Here are some ideas to play with at home to grow your family’s sense of these values.

A family gratitude journal. You can start a new journal or add some pages to your family meeting book. At dinner have everyone take turns being the scribe as each family member shares one thing that he or she is grateful for.

Random acts of kindness. Talk with your family about how you might do random acts of kindness. Do you want to practice on each other? Do you want to do stealth acts of kindness in the neighborhood? What kinds of ideas can you come up with?

Family read alouds. There are all sorts of books and stories on gratitude and kindness. Your local librarian can direct you to many. Another great source for lists of books and stories is the Fetzer Institute.

Interview friends and family. Encourage your family to dig into its own story. You can interview family and friends about a time that someone was generous to them that made a difference in their lives…or about a time that they were generous…or about something that the person is grateful for. Record them if you can. They will be a family treasure. StoryCorps has ideas for documenting family stories as well or find more suggestions at the National Day of Listening site.

Enjoy the connections these activities can bring!

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