I do love this time of year as a period of reflection on what what has transpired over the last 12 months. Although the year is always is filled with change, this year I reflect on the gifts I’ve been given- strength in being vulnerable, grace in the midst of loss, many supportive friends and family who lovingly witness my journey and accept me where I am I my path, my own deeper loving acceptance of who I am. All these glorious gifts I give gratitude for. Although many were discovered in difficult times, I give thanks for the ability to welcome growth in the midst of change.
The feature article below offers some thoughts on giving thanks and how you can use your creativity to celebrate what you are grateful for.
As many of you know I am a fan of positive Positive psychology and happiness practices and use in often in my life and in my art therapy practice with clients. If you haven’t heard of positive psychology it is a new field of psychology that emphasizes the strengths and resources of the individual. Instead of focusing solely on what’s wrong, it encourages you to explore “what’s right” in your life. Needless to say it encourages resilience and the belief that we are resourceful creators in our lives- meaning we can use our innate gifts to live a happier life, regardless of the circumstances.
So how can you apply the principles of positive psychology into your life and help your family use these tools too?
One of the basic tools positive psychologist have been studying is called “Three Good Things in Life”. The research suggests that by writing down three things you are grateful for each day you can reduced depressive symptoms and increased happiness for six months (Park et al., 2005). How simple, yet how effective!
So here are some simple ways to bring this practice into your home and encourage yourself and your children to explore gratitude.
1. Make a gratitude ritual-
At dinner or before bed allow your child and yourself to reflect on what you are grateful for each day.
This simple tool will allow you an opportunity to reflect on the day and find the good. It’s nice to do this before going to bed to allow your mind to think positively before drifting off to sleep.
3. Make gratitude art-
This could be in many forms, such as marking an image or using collage to create what you are grateful for; or creating gifts of gratitude for others.
4. Create a Thanksgiving tradition-
Encourage your child (or do this yourself) to draw or use magazine pictures to make place mats for each member of the family. On each place mat create an image of what about that individual you are grateful for (such as who they are, what they like, what they do, what makes them special). This is a great activity to keep your child busy while you are cooking and a unique way to celebrate each person in the family. You can collect them throughout the years as each person grows, and reflect on their changes and unique attributes.