Create gratitude journals. Dr. Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology and religious studies at the University of Miami, conducted a study in which he asked his subjects to write down four or five things that they were grateful for each day. In only two weeks, most subjects reported feeling happier. This study clearly underlines the idea that gratitude can be taught – simply and quickly.
Be a broken record. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself and ask your child to say, “PLEASE may I be excused from the table” or “PLEASE pass the ketchup.” Remind your children consistently to say “thank you” to you and to others when they receive gifts. This helps them understand that other people are doing something for them. With constant reminders, the phrasing will come naturally – and so will the gratitude.
Talk about tefillah. As Jewish people, we have a built in daily mechanism for expressing gratitude – prayer. Explain to your children that tefillah itself is a great way to say thank you to Hakodosh Baruch Hu for all the wonderful things in their lives.
Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Living your life with gratitude means that you don’t take for granted every time something good happens. Rather, you experience each new positive development in your life as a windfall – a new reason to say thank you.