Acquiring the Habit of Gratitude

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 2:00 AM AKST

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Dec. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Being gracious to the people around you can produce plenty of positive feelings for them, yet you may be surprised at the effect is has on you. Surprised you can benefit by giving something away? Don't be, said Kristen Sanders, Senior Moral Focus Specialist for National Heritage Academies. Gratitude is a mutually beneficial act.

National Heritage Academies (PRNewsfoto/National Heritage Academies)
National Heritage Academies (PRNewsfoto/National Heritage Academies)

"Thinking about all you have to appreciate can boost your happiness and your overall well-being," Sanders said. "Research shows gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness."

A 2003 joint study by psychologists Dr. Robert A. Emmons (University of California, Davis) and Dr. Michael E. McCullough (University of Miami) found that gratitude improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, self-esteem, empathy and reduces stress.

The challenge comes in the delivery: You must continually exercise that muscle.

"People aren't hard-wired to be grateful," Sanders said. "Like any skill worth having, gratitude requires practice."

Sanders said if children are to grow in gratitude, they need to practice all four aspects: Notice, Think, Feel and Do. Students at NHA schools are encouraged to actively pursue reasons for gratitude and to Practice Looking, Think about the "Why", Talk about Gratitude, and Make it a Habit.

Here are some of her suggestions to get kids headed in the right direction:

Morning Routine

Start each day by naming something or someone they are grateful for. Encourage your child to be specific about why they appreciate that thing or person. This is a great activity for breakfast or the car ride to school.

Gratitude List/Jar

Keep a list of what the family is grateful for and add to it as needed. You can also write things on slips of paper and keep a Gratitude Jar. Get it out often and read about all the things your family is grateful for.

Take a Gratitude Walk

While you walk, look for simple pleasures such as the warm sun or birds singing. Express appreciation for those things.

Give a Thoughtful Gift

Have your child earn money to buy a gift or help them make one for someone they appreciate. Get them to include a note with a specific reason they appreciate that person.

The Little Things

If the sunset is particularly beautiful, comment on it. If the sound of the baby's laughter warms your heart, tell your children. Encourage them to look for their own awe-inspiring moments and share them with you.

Bedtime Routine

Finish your day with an attitude of gratitude. Take five minutes at the end of the day to ask your child what he or she is thankful for that day.

As with any habit, it's difficult to give it up – a pleasant byproduct of your efforts.

About National Heritage Academies:
NHA is a network of 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit

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SOURCE National Heritage Academies

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