Gratitude is a skill that needs to be practiced!

Google says, “Gratitude” is a quality of being thankful, showing appreciation for and returning it with kindness. Absolutely true!

Although rightly defined, but considering the plethora of thankless people around, I wonder if we are able to identify, feel and project this emotion anymore!

I feel, we often confuse this term with “frustration due to deprivation”.

For instance, when we get deprived of something or someone (for instance, one’s cook on leave, phone battery getting discharged, losing out on time with deadlines etc.) we end up missing the people or things at that point of time, to the point of feeling anxious, but forget to be grateful to them, especially when these said things are there!

Ideally, these crisis moments are an opportunity for us to feel grateful for what we have and also for what we are missing out, but we end up getting overwhelmed, fretting on the non-availability of things and people in our life. Maybe this is how people confuse “feeling grateful” with frustration and ignore the sub-conscious feeling of gratitude towards the things or people, who would have made things work (had they been present)!

I guess that’s the reason why Rhonda Byrne chose to write “Secret”, to reveal it to all that feeling frustrated due to deprivation of some kind, would only add to your woes and less to your power struggles. On the contrary, showing thankfulness or gratefulness towards a situation or rather seeing the brighter side of a picture would help in sailing through! And that’s how the magic manifests!

According to me, feeling thankful for, appreciating and returning the favor, is like a behavioral cycle, which in turn is like a habit that needs to be practiced from time to time, to get biologically wired in all of us! At least, it needs to be practiced till the time, the act doesn’t become a habit.

As a mother, if I need to teach the skill of gratitude to my son, I have to consciously practice the same. Not just towards people around me, but even towards myself! I need to understand that as a mother, I’m doing good and enough. By feeling grateful towards my efforts, I might bring out more from myself! This is a valuable lesson, which I have understood and learnt from my parents.

As a mother, I, now value my parents even more than before.

Ever since I became a parent, I am able to identify and evaluate their parenting actions under an unbiased, scientific lens, to gauge that whatever they did was for a certain kind of development in us. Not just in absolute terms, but even in relative terms (when I compare with my parenting style), I feel deep gratitude towards them!  And the most important reason is because somewhere they showed that gratitude was a way of life. They constantly reciprocated to people with kindness for what they did. And that is how they received more in life! They felt grateful for whatever little we showed or did for them and maybe that is what spiraled and made us do some more,  because we enjoyed that satisfactory expression on their faces! In fact, I still end up doing things like cooking for my mother or running errands for her (when I visit her), all for the sake of her smile, that acknowledgement that gives me more happiness than anything else in this world!

In short, the only life lesson that I got from my parents was that they never told us how to live a life, rather they showed us and we followed suit.

Hence, to think of “gratitude” as a skill, maybe as parents we need to feel it first before imparting the same! The problem stems from the fact that as parents, sometimes we expect a lot from our children, failing to feel grateful for what we have through them. Maybe we need to feel thankful for whatever little they have. It’s only then that they will flourish and bloom! It will be then, that our children will reciprocate our actions with kindness and do a lot more than our expectations!

I have realized this life lesson from my parents’ parenting style. Therefore, I try (don’t succeed all the time, but still try) and feel grateful for everything, no matter how small it is, and express my thanks consciously for it!

If we take “Gratitude” as the new skill to impart to our children, then as mentors (we, the parents), have to master it first! Try and make it a pilot project for yourself and then for your child. Try and take up volunteering or charitable activities consciously, feeling thankful and privileged for being able to give. Only when you feel the joy in giving, only then you learn to savor the feeling of gratefulness. My father was a surgeon and once a week, he would serve the poor and the underprivileged through missionary charities. Since I used to tag along with him, I used to see him feeling blissed and at peace doing the act. It was since then that I have wanted to indulge in the joy of giving and do so, sporadically though, in my small way, to relish that feeling of utter bliss and peace.

I have realized that if I continue to do so, I will succeed being the right model of gratitude to my child. By doing this, I will help my child feel the “magic” and “magnitude” of gratitude!

Do watch out for my next blog post, which will highlight easy ways of practicing gratitude with our children.

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