From badditude to gratitude

by Kristin on July 16, 2010

in Culture, ideas & paradigms

Photo by Jessica Tam

A friend and I were talking about our kids yesterday, as they played together in another room. We agreed that one of the most exhausting and frustrating things about parenting our kids at this stage is dealing with high expectations and negative, glass-half-empty responses.

We each have one child, in particular (identities withheld), who tends to pick apart the day, teasing out all the little things that didn’t go right and setting them out side by side on display—a sad collection with no purpose other than to breed pessimism.

My friend said she has been working with her kids, encouraging them to think of three things that were good about the day, that went right. Ah, yes—practicing gratitude. “I definitely need to start making my kids do that, too,” I said.

Having solved our kids’ problems for the moment, the grownups moved along to talk about our lives. What a frustrating day it had been! I had taken the girls all the way across town to see a matinee of a play, only to find out they didn’t have any tickets left. Then, when a few tickets were turned back into the box office, they were cash-only and I was $4 short. Someone I knew lent me the money, but now I had to go by her place to pay her back. One more random thing on my never-ending to-do list.

On top of that, the heat and humidity were wrecking havoc on my sinuses, I complained. And I hadn’t had any time alone to work all week—being a freelancer means my work takes a backseat to family needs. Jason was out of town again, and…and….

Time to practice what I preach

Uh, right. Clearly the kids aren’t the only ones who need to practice gratitude exercises. I’ll go first:

- I’m thankful for my husband, and that he has a job that he enjoys and is really good at (even if it takes him out of town).

- I’m thankful I can make a living doing what I love, and that I can also be my own boss and have a flexible schedule, especially in the summer.

- I’m thankful my kids are fun to spend time with, and that they like spending time with me.

- I’m thankful for swimming pools and plays, movies and dinner with friends.

- I’m thankful my health is above average.

- I’m also thankful for Sudafed and Tylenol, cold water, iced coffee and air conditioning.

- I’m thankful for the nudgings of the Spirit that help me see myself and my life more clearly.

What about you? How can you turn your badditude into gratitude?

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  • Ashley

    My writing mentor journals daily. Before she starts writing anything else in her entries, she writes at least half a page consisting of what she’s thankful for, even if it’s the tiniest little things. I’ve always admired that.

  • Nicole Unice

    I love this reminder. I just started keeping a gratitude and request journal…to keep perspective (gratitude) and to recognize God’s faithfulness (when he answers prayers.) I try to make sure I have at least as many specific thank-yous as I do requests. It’s surprisingly hard on some days! I love your reflections on parenting your kids and then applying those same lessons–happens to me almost every day.

  • Kristin T.

    Ashley, that is very admirable, and I’m sure it greatly impacts her mood and outlook every day, too. I’m so fascinated by what psychologists are theorizing/discovering when it comes to gratitude and how our minds work.

    Nicole, ah yes, perspective. It’s such a powerful force in our lives. I clearly remember the first time I realized, as a child, how much it matters *who* you compare yourself to (I was wishing I could have more Christmas presents like some kids I knew, but then starting thinking about kids who have SO much less). The point, of course, isn’t to compare one way or the other, but just to realize that the way we choose to view our own life really matters. Thanks for trying to figure all of this out alongside me!

  • Becky Ramsey

    Ha! Such a great post.
    I have a pick-apart child as well, bless his heart, and I think the reason that this part of his personality bugs me so much is that I see it in myself.
    What am I thankful for today? For friends who remind me to look in the mirror when something drives me crazy. Maybe I’ll start a gratitude journal. It’s a great idea.

    Uh oh. Now Michael Jackson has jumped into my brain. “I’m looking at the man in the mirror…”
    Thanks! :)

  • ed cyzewski

    Our small group has talked a lot about prayer requests and laments and the like lately. I’ve been trying to prevent my requests from dominating my prayer time since they’re usually rooted in calling to mind everything that isn’t going well. Instead I’m trying to start my prayer time with both thanksgiving and listening. It takes a long time for me to settle myself, but if I can manage it, it’s beneficial. The key thing is whether or not I can manage it, because sometimes I start rattling off requests for God to fix like… everything…