The definition of gratitude in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is given as, “the state of being grateful, thankfulness”. Some synonyms include appreciation, appreciativeness, gratefulness, and thanks. The Stretch-n-Grow philosophy goes beyond physical health; it includes mental and emotional well-being. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, taking special time to meditate on that for which we are grateful can help us re-focus before Christmas, and begin to practice gratitude as a regular, healthy habit in the upcoming year.In an age where the next and better thing is just around the corner, creating and maintaining a sense that we never have enough, it is essential to take time to remember what we do have, and create a grateful heart. Here are three activities that can instill a spirit of gratitude into daily family life.

1.Make sharing the things each person is grateful for a daily, family activity. Whether it’s over dinner, before bed, or maybe even first thing in the morning on the drive to school, having everyone share a few things for which they are thankful can be a good way to boost spirits and be grounded in the things that bring us joy. It can teach new things about each member of the family family as well, giving parents insight into how each person sees the world.

2.Make a “Thankfulness Board”. Use a pushpin board or magnetic white board to have a public space for members of the family to share what they are grateful for each week. Use pictures, write out lists, or come up with other creative ways to show the things that bring the family together. Feeling down? Just go look at the “Thankfulness Board”, and be reminded of all the wonderful elements of life!

3.Make it a habit to write thank you letters. Hand-written cards still make a major impact in people’s lives, and learning how to write careful, thoughtful notes is a skill that children can learn once they know how to write their letters. It also teaches them how to express themselves well, and how to show gratitude to others.

Gratitude is an important element to cultivating healthy family dynamics, and can be a great way to boost people’s spirits. Remembering how blessed our lives are can cultivate a more positive environment. The virtue of gratitude makes individuals more gracious, appreciative, and there are even some studies that show that people who consistently show and experience gratitude may experience some physical benefits -like this 2012 study published available from the National Institute of Health. As the year begins to wind down, many take time to reflect and make plans to improve themselves, or the world around them. Make the world a better -more grateful -place one day at a time.

By: Bethany Verrett