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“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
Some days are tough. When you’re struggling through the daily grind, simply trying to keep family life together and do right by your kids, moments can slip by in a blurred tumble of emotion. It can feel really, really difficult to focus on the good in the chaos.
In moments like these — and also in moments where the good seems so abundant and clear that your heart may burst with happiness — it’s important to practice gratitude. To reflect upon the things for which you are grateful in order to bring more of that positive energy to your life.
The concept of practicing gratitude is rooted in psychology and brain science, and is one deeply studied by the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, Dr. Martin Seligman. Seligman is celebrated for his work developing interventions to prevent depression and increase well-being.
In the book Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Seligman suggests taking part in a Gratitude Visit. The idea is that both feeling and expressing gratitude to another person will help you feel happier in the end.
So how do you visit gratitude? Seligman says:
“Your task is to write a letter of gratitude to this individual and deliver it in person. The letter should be concrete and about three hundred words: be specific about what she did for you and how it affected your life. Let her know what you are doing now, and mention how you often remember what she did. Make it sing! Once you have written the testimonial, call the person and tell her you’d like to visit her, but be vague about the purpose of the meeting; this exercise is much more fun when it is a surprise. When you meet her, take your time reading your letter.”
As a parent, this practice can be adopted for family life. Think about it: when was the last time you expressed gratitude to your child, to your spouse, in a deep and meaningful way that extended beyond a simple thank you?
If you are feeling disconnected from the small things that make your life happy, consider writing your child or another family member a gratitude letter. It doesn’t need to be fancy — it just needs to come from the heart.
Another gratitude practice that Seligman suggests: end the day by writing down three things that went well — and why they went well.
He says: “To overcome our brains’ natural catastrophic bent, we need to work on and practice this skill of thinking about what went well.” This, says Seligman, will help wire our brain for happiness.
Regardless of how you decide to practice gratitude, try to make a conscious effort to celebrate those little moments that make your life and your family shine. Yes, it can be difficult, but once you begin to focus on the good, the good will feel abundant.