If Gratitude Is The Key to Happiness, My Kids Are Screwed

If Gratitude Is The Key to Happiness, My Kids Are Screwed

Understood, that when Shawn Achor talked about The Life-Altering Power of a Positive Mind on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast, and suggested saying three things you’re thankful for each day, he didn’t exactly have the morning school drop-off in mind.

He probably wasn’t thinking about this mom in her minivan, trying to catch up to the minutes lost due to snow storms and snow suits and children running out on to the snow-covered front lawn to throw snowballs at each other instead of brushing off the car even though you did as they asked and bought them each their own snow brush and snow shovel which are still leaning up against the brick wall of the house, untouched.

He probably wasn’t thinking of that mom waiting now for her windows to defrost while she scolds her children for making them all late, and threatens to wake them up a half hour earlier so that they can do all the things they want to do before they help out with cleaning off the car but isn’t it so nice mommy works from home so they can sleep in that half hour instead and couldn’t they just do her a freakin’ solid already.

He probably wasn’t thinking about me, but anyway, I took his words to heart. And so on the day I listened to his podcast, I vowed to make my kids tell me three things they were grateful for each morning, and dang it if I wasn’t going to let a snow storm or being 10 minutes late get in the way of that promise.

And so, teeth clenched and with my best crazy-mom smile on, I begin: “I am grateful for this beautiful snowy morning. I am grateful for my special special babies. I am grateful for daddy finally fixing the toilet. Zane, what are you grateful for?”

“I am grateful for Gizmo. And Godzilla. And Chivas (my mom’s dead dog).”

“And poo poo caca!” the three-year-old chimes in.

Not exactly Little Lord Fontleroys, as my MIL jokingly calls them.

“I am grateful for the Champions shirt grandma is going to buy me. I am grateful for scoring a goal next Friday. And I am grateful for the new car we’re getting (no where near in the future).”

I remind my eldest (for the the hundredth time) that gratitude is being grateful for what you have, not a wish list for Santa and his elves (read: mom and dad and the grandparents).

Inwardly I admonish myself for raising four ungrateful gremlins. And then I wonder, can I really blame them?

I mean, you would think that it would be easy to name all the good things in our lives, but unless you’ve lived without them, can you truly appreciate them?

In which case, how can we teach our kids to be grateful when we give them everything they want?

Recently, my least grateful son turned a corner. Something clicked and without my putting words in his mouth, one morning he started naming things like “Food, our house, a family that loves me.”

I’m not sure if it’s our morning gratitude that did the trick, or a sudden insight at school into the lives of those who suffer without, or whether he really is an evil genius who finally realized that Santa is watching and would like this very much.

I’m going to give myself a little credit for now and go with our daily practice. It makes me feel more positive already.



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Author: Cat Margulis

Cat Margulis is a Toronto writer and super (tired) mom of four. She's working on her first novel, launching her own podcast (at passionprojectpod.com), and generally trying to do and have it all. You can see how she does it @catmargulis and @passionprojectpod on Instagram.

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