There is a lot around about this concept of being in a state of gratitude and I must admit I drift in and out quite frequently, my kids and I do our “grateful list” each morning in the car and I love what comes up although lately it has started to feel a little forced and rehearsed so we decided to start becoming more conscious with this process and last night we watched a documentary called “Living on one Dollar” http://livingonone.org/.
This is to be the first in a series of documentaries we are diving into not only for my own reminder of just how much we really have in this world but to begin educating our kids (7, 5 & 18 months) on just how lucky we are to be living in such a wonderful country and with all of the luxuries we enjoy.
The documentary was about 4 friends who decided to not only study the effect of extreme poverty but to walk 56 days in the shoes of those who are living below the poverty line on $1 a day. They travel to Guatemala and join a small community, renting a place, starting a business and surviving each on $1 a day.
The conversation sparked by this simple but profound film in our eldest sons was beautiful and has prompted an awareness in them about just how much we consume and spend on a daily basis, they are actively enquiring about food costs and also what we pay for bills, and fuel and other “essentials”. I feel like beginning these conversations now is growing an awareness in them at an early age of different realities as well as an appreciation for all that we have.
Why do I feel the need to embrace and embody gratitude more fully in our lives? When in a state of gratitude, true gratitude for the world around us its shifting our brains out of the state of not having enough, to being enough. To focus on the positives rather than the negatives which in an increasingly consumer driven world is a refreshing place to be. Gratitude has been attributed to so much more as well! Including physical and mental health, sleeping better, enhancing social skills and relationships – the list is truly endless.
Other ways we try to keep life a little more simple and less stressful as a family in our household is by deliberately not having a TV. Its been a conscious decision that was aided by the fact that when we moved to our new home 2 and a half years ago we couldn’t get our antenna to work. We still physically have a TV for watching the occasional DVD and the kids engage in other forms of screens such as iPad and a computer but I find a massive difference when we do watch TV in how much more they “want” and it’s a huge testament to the power of advertising not only on small children but on us as adults as well. The reduction in that pressure of advertising from TV is huge, I also don’t actively listen to the news, occasionally I will catch it on the radio if I am listening in the car, but I don’t deliberately go out of my way to know what is happening in the world, which may be viewed as irresponsible by some but to me I notice the direct influence it has on my moods, when I do and when I don’t listen so sometimes I simply switch it off.
I find these simple measures make a huge difference in our attitudes to life as a family on a daily basis, not saying we have it all figured out but being open and conscious of these as factors that influence mood and overall state of mind and being is definitely assisting us in moving forward in a way that feels sustainable. I hope that our children will be empowered to feel their way into what works for them as they grow older and I hope they eventually appreciate why we do what we do.
Do you have a gratitude practice? What ways do you introduce this to your family? I would love to hear how!