How to Teach Gratitude to Grandchildren

Dennis Praeger, a well know speaker and author, states that, “Gratitude is the key to happiness.”

Today, I decided to reflect on the meaning of gratitude because of an email I received from a writer, a young woman who lives halfway around the world. After reading some of my stories, we Skyped. The next day I found her email in my inbox.

“Just a thought before I go to bed. Last night when we spoke, I wrote down the power of appreciation in my notebook. I think I did so after you said you choose never to complain about the things that happened to you. In a way this is something magical. Perhaps your good luck came to you because you chose to appreciate, to be thankful for what you already had and not complain. The universe works that way- it gives more when we stop wanting more.”

I immediately thought of Dennis Praeger’s words, “Gratitude is the most important element in happiness.”

I am very lucky that each day I ‘feel’ grateful. I often wonder how I acquired this feeling of deep appreciation. As a child, my parents showered me with love and healthy values but for the life of me I could not remember them teaching me to “be grateful.”

I clearly understood, after I received the email from the writer, that defining gratitude had been plaguing me since I started writing. Not in a bad sense, but in questioning sense. I could not put my finger on who taught me to be grateful. Something nondescript would occur, something kind someone said, something I noticed that made me feel joy and privately I would think to myself, “How was I so fortunate to learn this feeling of gratitude?”

And as I continued to question over time, it was not until I read and reread her words and thought and thought that I could put my finger on my question.

“I came to the conclusion that feeling gratitude is an attitude. It is a mind-set.”

And as I thought deeper about the process of how I came to be so grateful, I recalled my mother buying me stationary when I had just learned to print. Every gift I received, no matter how small, I wrote a thank you note showing my appreciation. I recall my mother teaching me to always say, “thank you,” to show my appreciation. She never told me to be grateful, she instilled this mindset and I physically felt joyful after I wrote the note or said thank you. My mother could have spoiled me with material possessions. She chose not to take that path and I learned without her saying, “be grateful”… to be grateful when I received some material possession.

Now that I have finally lived into my answer, I decided to turn my attentions to our grands.  Yours and mine.  I am sorry to say they are the entitled generation and it really turns me off.

They are given so much that, in turn, they expect to receive. How can they turn out to be great adults if they expect everything to be handed to them?  What can we, their grandparents, do?