What makes a happy home? I'm sure it's different for every family because we come in all shapes and sizes. I must admit I'm not an expert here. I've witnessed plenty of chaos and more meltdowns than I want to admit at home. But through it all we have supported each other and, dare I say, even blossomed. And gratitude seems to be the common element that makes life the best. So here are five ways to share gratitude—family tested and approved.
1) Ask family members about their day. Set down your smart phone and be fully present in the moment. Yep, that one is so simple you'd think it would be automatic. Hearing the stories from each of them opens doors to new discussions. Friendly conversation—no matter the topic—somehow begins to heal those disagreements that might have popped up yesterday.
2) List three good things that happened to you today. Ask your kids to name three. This has turned into a favorite bedtime ritual with my kids.
3) Write in a gratitude journal every day. You can even post your gratitude thoughts on social media. Snap a photo and hashtag it #gratitude and #thankful and post it on Instagram or Twitter.
4) When chaos hits the fan, then it's time to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes. Inhale slowly. Exhale slowly. Repeat. When you open your eyes again, acknowlegde that negative things happen in life and then turn your thoughts to how far you have come in life. It's a way to map the progress in your mind and appreciate the good in life. No matter how many screaming kids are running around you, never forget it only takes one calm person in a room to transform a whirlwind of activity—and even a typhoon of negativity—into gratitude. Share a smile. Give a hug.
5) Pick up the phone and call a friend or family member. The simple act of calling someone is a way of reaching out and showing you care about them. Checking in with someone shows your gratitude.
6) Volunteer. Find something you are passionate about and search for volunteer organizations that serve that need. Make it a family project or an individual project. Service to others brings each of us a new perspective on the world.
7) Collect moments, not things. At the end of the day, the "stuff of life" that I am most thankful for is not something I can touch or hold in my hand. It never is something I can purchase. It's all about those memories—those moments that I treasure. Remember them. Write them down. Talk to your family about them. Replaying the movie in your head of those grateful moments can keep you going during those bleaker times.
The list of ways to share gratitude can go on and on. Share yours in the comments.