A little over a year ago, my wife and I started practicing daily gratitudes. We had tried keeping Gratitude Journals, but they always went by the wayside. There was no immediate pressure to write in them, and so after a week or so, they were lost in the ongoing to do list. We are not religious people, but we wanted something to ground us and our family. We had a baby on the way, and we didn’t want to just start something up for the sake of starting it up when the baby was “old enough to notice” – so we started saying something that we were grateful for every night before dinner, in place of where some families may say Grace.
This was a life-changing move.
“The Secret” promotes the act of gratitude and talks about putting your dreams into the Universe; the idea is that what you put out and believe in comes back to you. It sounds like Hocus Pocus. It works.
What happened shortly after we started to say, out loud, what we were grateful for, was that we started to notice all of the things we could be grateful for. We became happier. We became calmer. All from a 2 minute change in our day.
We have even peer-pressured family into taking part when they have dinner with us. A year ago at Thanksgiving, we sprung it on them, and it was clearly an uncomfortable event; this year, however, it was a deep and meaningful three or four minutes before dinner. But it’s not just about Thanksgiving day – it’s about every day; every single day we have dozens of things to be grateful for.
It goes like this:
Mommy: “Kingsley, what are you grateful for?”
Kingsley: throws his hands around, or stares blankly at us … for now. In the future, this will be the routine he has always known and he will naturally engage in it.
Daddy: “Oh, good one Kingsley. What are you grateful for Mommy?”
Mommy: “I’m grateful for a ruggedly handsome husband.” (Right? This is every night! I am very handsome, clearly.) “And what are YOU grateful for, Daddy?”
Daddy: “I’m grateful for ….” this list usually goes on for a while.
Sometimes we expand on them. On grumpy days, we usually don’t get too deep, but we say them anyway. It’s important to maintain the ritual of expressing thanks. To be honest, it makes me reconsider my mood most of the time. There are days where it is a list of little, tiny things, like “the leaves that are so freakin’ beautiful right now and the view on my way into work and that someone took my suggestion today!” and other days it might be one giant thing. There are the days where we go back to the old steady gratitudes, too, which is important and okay. (The: “grateful for my wife” and “grateful for this meal” (especially when it’s made with food we grew ourselves) and “grateful for this beautiful baby boy who amazes me every second” gratitudes.)
What does this have to be with being a Creative Daddy?
Without the act of being grateful, I truly believe that my focus in life might shift from a family-focused, positive one, to something more internal and selfish. I express gratitude, I model positive living, and I create opportunities for expression, risk taking and making time for little things. Because in the end, it’s all about the little things – they quickly add up to become the big things.