Being Grateful For What We Have

According to Google, the word grateful means “feeling or showing appreciation of kindness; thankful.” The word gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; ready to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

Why do we all struggle with being grateful and expressing our gratitude for the good things and people in our lives? Why is that we can pray, hope and long for something to happen and when it does we appreciate it for only a short a time before it becomes average and boring? It’s one of the great mysteries of the human experience; one of my least favorite actually. I would like to feel deep levels of gratefulness and express my gratitude on a more consistent basis. How about you?

I think one of the keys to sustained levels of gratitude is to often reflect on what our lives would be like without the particular item or person.  Not in some depression, sadness inducing way but rather to take the time to get quiet and ponder all that enriches our lives and how would we feel without them. Just small moments of reflection can bring our hearts and minds back to where we should be; grateful.

Now, I do feel the need to say that among the christian circle especially, I find that many folks are talking themselves into being grateful for things that in all honest, really should improve. Let me clarify. If a job, relationship, health status or other item isn’t fully functioning, then we need to not become lazy and call it gratefulness. Let us not sit back and just be in gratitude that we are not divorced yet but do nothing to improve the marriage or grateful to have  a job but be stalled-out in our career and sugar coat it by saying we are “just grateful to be employed.” I find many people use this concept of gratitude to hide behind laziness. Let’s not do that, ok?

Instead, let us appreciate the small and big things in our lives and always be looking for ways to improve their quality and function. Look around you. What are you grateful for and what are some actions you can take to make those things even better?!

What are you grateful for today?

Cattle Education

My child attends public school; for now. I say for now because I believe that parents should take each school year one at a time and re-assess what their child(ren) need academically and socially.  We can not just assume that the traditional American model of education will be a good fit for our children throughout their educational experience.

I find most school environments to be what I call “cattle education.” By that I mean many children are herded through each grade, given little opportunity for an individualized learning experience and essentially must stay in their “pen” until the rest of the group moves on. Many children do not flourish in these types of settings.

Our kiddos change and mature so greatly within a traditional school calendar year and it is wisdom to take inventory at the end of each grade to determine what they  need for the upcoming academic year in the Fall.

For example,  I have worked with parents whose child ended a grade having done very well academically but struggled throughout the year socially. The parents and I brainstormed about ways to improve the social environment for the child and making a move to a smaller, private school was the right choice for the family. The child did very well and was able to advance in social skills due to a change in the school setting.

Another child I worked with had experienced an unsettled home life and the parents determined that even though the child’s current school wasn’t ideal in their views, the child wanted and needed consistency in one area of life. Therefore the parents kept the child in the same school and it turned out to be the right choice.

There are a few aspects to education that we must be mindful of and the most important to me is that the school setting we have our children in should not just become a babysitting service. Our children must be able to utilize their school days in highly productive ways that are enriching or it may be time to rethink the environment where your child is being educated.