|Kingman counting his profits after vending at a holiday party. Note the disappointed expression. His sales were not what he expected. A good time for a gratitude reminder you think?|
At least once a month Kingman asks when are we getting a new car. Our blessed car was gifted to us and has over 250,000 miles on it. I gently remind Kingman that we are grateful to have a car that is paid for and still working when we drive past people standing at a rainy bus stop. Immediately, his perception changes to one of complete understanding. Apparently, taking these moments to redirect our children's perceptions can have lasting positive effects, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D, a sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. Carter recently wrote about this topic on her blog in a post entitled Gratitude vs. Materialism. The article goes on to say that "materialistic folks tend to be dissatisfied with their lives, have low self-esteem, be less integrated into their community, find less meaning in life, and be less concerned about the welfare of others." For children this translates into being more likely to do poorly in school, be at greater risk for depression, unhappiness and anxiety and feeling less connected to their community. Who knew materialism could be this harmful?! Dr. Carter suggests that when we help our children learn to focus more on the positive, there is less time to focus on the negative. More importantly, according to Dr. Carter grateful children and teens are much happier. "They get higher grades, are more satisfied with their lives, are more integrated socially (e.g., they feel like they are a significant part of their communities), and they are more likely to experience flow in their activities. They show fewer signs of depression. Grateful teens also tend to feel less envy," she wrote. I used to have Kingman practice his cursive handwriting by writing in this Grateful journal. We'll be picking that practice up again starting today.