I met up with a friend for lunch and later chit chatted on the phone with another friend. “I hate cooking dinner,” I found myself complaining. Their responses surprised me.
My friend who’s a single mom with two grown children replied, “I remember enjoying making meals for my kids. I’m lonely now and it’s far too easy to succumb to peanut butter sandwiches.”
My other friend with a challenging teenage son replied, “I’m so grateful my son ate dinner with me for the last three nights. It’s nice to see him come out of his room.”
This made me think: It’s easy to be grateful for big things. I often thank God for my family or for answering prayers. But what about being grateful in mundane tasks or even everyday challenging situations?
“Time for bed,” my husband hollered to our daughter after I ended my call. The sharpness in his voice told me it was past her bedtime. Silence filled the air. My body tensed and I charged downstairs. Angry thoughts flooded my mind: It’s late. What does she think she’s doing? It’s time for bed.
My recent revelation about gratitude popped into my brain which stopped my thoughts from spiraling. This allowed me to breathe and enjoy the moment when I spotted my daughter and son together.
“Mommy, mommy, watch my dance moves,” she pleaded.My teenage son, aka the DJ and want-to-be body builder, played her pop music while she busted some funky moves and he lifted weights. He even played their song.
The interaction between them soothed my spirit. They were enjoying separate activities yet engaged together. I delighted in the situation and then redirected my daughter to bed. She closed her eyes and fell into slumber while mine opened and awakened to the benefits of gratitude. Here are 3 things I discovered:
- Gratitude Leads to Compassion
Gratitude corrects destructive thoughts and opens the gateway for compassionate thoughts to flow. My angry thoughts switched to Wow – look how happy she is. Her and her brother are getting along. I love this moment. I appreciated my daughter in an otherwise tense moment.
- Gratitude Lifts Blinders
Gratitude opens our eyes to underlying issues that drive behaviour. My grateful mind frame calmed my emotions which brought certain facts about my daughter to the forefront. Fact 1: My daughter’s ADHD brain gets distracted. Fact 2: My daughter struggles to connect the relationship between staying up late and feeling tired the next day. Fact 3: My daughter’s longing to feel connected to her brother overshadows other circumstances.
- Gratitude Heals Hearts
Gratitude helps us respond to our children’s needs which heals their broken hearts. I attuned to my daughter’s need to connect with her brother. I then redirected her to bed with a gentle voice which she responded to without a struggle.
I sat beside her bed while she fell into a contended slumber. I kissed her forehead, proclaimed “I love you,” and left her room feeling even more grateful. Grateful for insight. Grateful for my son and daughter’s blossoming relationship. Grateful for feeling close to my daughter tonight.