With Thanksgiving upon us, this is the perfect time to start reflecting on what we are thankful for. Mindfulness isn’t always just being in the present moment…we can also intentionally cultivate positive states such as kindness, generosity, and gratitude.
Gratitude means being thankful for what you have in your life. When you think about what you’re grateful for, you will literally change your brain to think about things more positively in your life. You’ll see things differently and make choices to be happier and feel more connected. When you are grateful, your body releases chemicals that make you happier and calmer. Even in your darkest, saddest, most depressed moments, you can probably find something to be grateful for. And you don’t have to be grateful for material things. In fact, you can be grateful for your breath, for the earth that nurtures you, or for people in your life who love you (Mallika Chopra, Just Breathe: Meditation, Mindfulness, Movement, and More).
There are so many fun ways to get kiddos thinking about what they are grateful for. Each day for the rest of the month, try to share something you are thankful for with your family at dinnertime. Encourage each family member to do the same. Or tape a large sheet of paper on the wall for the month and draw or write on the “gratitude wall” each day. See if you can go the whole month without any repeats!
Here is another fun activity that you can prepare for big family gatherings during Thanksgiving weekend…
Warm oven to 170* (or turn to “warm”). Place river rocks or smooth rocks on a cookie sheet and warm them up in the oven for about 10 minutes. Have an adult take the cookie sheet out of the oven and place the rocks on wax paper (using an oven mitt!). Use crayons to color on the warm rocks and the crayon wax will melt right onto the rock, making lovely designs! You might have people use an oven mitt to protect their fingers while decorating…rocks will be HOT!!
Once the rocks have cooled and the wax has hardened, use a sharpie to write something you are grateful for on the rocks. Then you can use the rocks as part of a Thanksgiving centerpiece or put them in a “peace garden” outside!
And finally, check out this super sweet and beautiful children’s book on gratitude this month or during the holiday weekend is All My Treasures: A Book of Joy by Jo Witek, a favorite of mine and my children!
Mindy, Mindful Roots