Thoughts

Give thanks this Valentine’s Day

by Robert Zeitlin, PsyD

This Valentine’s Day, turn a beloved Thanksgiving tradition into a year-long habit. Appreciating the good things in our lives makes us healthier, happier, and nicer to be around. But families only come together to practice gratitude once a year, usually at Thanksgiving. Someone always starts, “what are you thankful for? Let’s go around before we eat.” Then, before you know it, the warm feelings of family and delicious food blend with expressions of gratitude to make Thanksgiving special. But the effects of practicing gratitude are so positive and strong that once a year isn’t enough. We should find ways to do it more.

This weekend, start a new tradition. Instead of just thankfulness, try Brag-Desire-Gratitude. You can do this three-part testimonial in pairs or around the family dinner table. First, say something you are proud about, an accomplishment or event that happened recently. Go ahead and brag. Next, share something you want to happen in the future (desire). And then end with something for which you are grateful. It’s a great way to listen to each other and you may find it a lot easier than you think to talk about the things that excite you. You may be surprised at what comes up.

Not only does Brag-Desire-Gratitude remind you that you are living in the present tense (while recalling the past and looking forward to the future), but it also gives you the chance to let the people close to you learn what makes you happy and share in your accomplishments and dreams. If it works out for you, repeat it often. Building a habit of practicing gratitude is shown to have positive health effects and to improve your mood, plus lots of other good side effects.

Next month Robert will tell us how practices like Brag-Desire-Gratitude fit into Positive Parent Coaching, a program for parents who want to expand and deepen their parenting skills by flexing their strengths.

For more information about Robert Zeitlin and positive parent coaching visit: http://www.robertzeitlin.com

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