Gratitude: The Winning Attitude

November 19, 2018, Shirley Blake

It is thanksgiving week! I feel in my heart that I should write about gratitude. Let’s be honest, parenting is flat out hard and having the attitude of thankfulness takes intention. Nonetheless, I do love being a mom, no doubt about that. I do wish I had as much energy as my children though…

All right, back to gratitude.

I grew up with a very optimistic father and he taught me that things like mannerisms are important. I learned to make eye contact when talking to people, shake hands to greet others, and, of course, say
“please” and “thank you” (or should I say “por favor” and “gracias?”)

Teaching those things to Karson is work. I need to remind him frequently, but most importantly I need to explain why it’s important. I really would like him to understand why he should be appreciative of things. I don’t want him to say “thank you” because he feels obligated to do so, and instead to say it because he actually means it with his heart.

Now, how do you teach that?

As I have mentioned before, both of my parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico. One of the many reasons they decided to move here was because of EXTREME poverty and influences by the Braceros program (for you history bluffs). My mom’s highest completion of school was the 6th grade, and my dad completed the 3rd grade. My mom was able to complete the highest schooling available in her town. Crazy, I know. My dad only went to the 3rd grade because he needed to work in order to help put food on the table. When I was little, my dad really enjoyed hearing about my school attendance. He would ask questions about what I was learning, and I would happily share. He would tell me that he badly wanted to stay in school and would often cry when he would see his peers go to school.

My dad’s story helped me to have a better attitude and understanding of my opportunity. I enjoyed learning in school despite language challenges, peer-discrimination, and lack of support at home. I was so thankful for the opportunity to go to school. I share these kinds of stories with my son. Many children around the world would love to go to school and can’t. That’s tough.

I am counting blessings. I hope my children do too.

In any situation with challenges and struggles, it’s easy to get caught up. Before reacting to these events, I try to process and have the best perspective possible.

The holidays are near, and we may wish we had more than what we do, but what if we can just be thankful for what we DO have? Life is never perfect, and it can be difficult, but I ask you to focus on the good.

A few tips to help foster thankfulness in your children are:

  • Be the role model of having a good attitude
    • be mindful of your thoughts, facial expressions, body language, what you say and how you say it
  • Explain why one should be thankful
    • personal stories, or thoughts
  • Engage in ways to help others
    • Helping others by volunteering or being part of a community really brings on some good warm feelings

Another story I have dates back to 2014.

My husband Kody and I went on a mission trip through our church. We visited an orphanage in Mexico for a week. Those sweet children were always so joyful. I remember many great things about their attitudes. One particular thing I am thinking of was their meals. They were fed twice a day and the portions were so small with no option of a second helping. Regardless of the small amount of food they received they were so happy to have food. Wow. It was so humbling to have that experience and know how much food I had at home.

We may not have it all, and that is okay, but let’s not forget what we do have. There is so much science and research out there about how awesome a good attitude is for you. Google it.

I wish you a wonderful thanksgiving. THANK YOU for allowing me to write to you. I have really enjoyed blogging over here.

Warm and peaceful regards,

Shirley Blake