Experiments in Gratitude

One thing that drives me nuts is kids who are ungrateful. You’ve seen them. They stand in the checkout line at the grocery store next to a mother who has a heavily laden buggy – usually filled with items custom tailored for said ungrateful kids – and whine and complain about what they don’t have in life. “But Mom, why can’t I have the chocolate bar??? But Mom. But Mom. Mommmmmm.” It is enough to make me seriously consider the virtues of a one-child policy or mass sterilization. In fact, for years Eric and I called those encounters “birth control” because we left the store so disenchanted with the whole parenting experience that our timeline for beginning a family got bumped back by six months every time we ran into one of those kids.

I suppose I am especially sensitive to the issue because Eric has devoted his life to non-profit work. He has always, for as long as we have been together, poured his soul into helping those less fortunate than the rest of us. I get a blow-by-blow of what happens in his world each and every evening, and this insight serves to drastically lower my tolerance for those who cannot appreciate the wealth they have been given in life.

Unfortunately, all of us fall prey to this insidious culture. Just the other day, after two hours of fun mother/daughter shopping for Easter supplies, Riley pouted in the back seat of the car because she wasn’t able to find exactly what she wanted. Let’s be clear, she didn’t come home empty-handed by any means, but that perfect item had remained elusive. I was seriously ticked off. As I contemplated my response, I ran through every scenario from grabbing her bunny ears off her head and throwing them out the window of the car to throwing all her toys into a trash bag and donating them to The Salvation Army to losing my temper and yelling at her to be grateful for what she has.

Thankfully, I didn’t do any of those things. And the reason why I didn’t was because, just that afternoon, I had watched Shawn Achor speak about real happiness…and real happiness entails cultivating a culture of gratefulness. So, instead of throwing a fit or striping Riley’s bedroom, I decided that the Frans family is going to do an Experiment in Gratitude. Following on Achor’s suggestions, each night we are each going to share three things for which we are grateful. Instead of bitching about lack of gratitude, we are going to start practicing it…together…because we can all use a dose of real happiness in our lives.

I highly recommend that you watch this video from Achor. Not only will you laugh your bunny tail off, but you might just find the keys to beginning an Experiment in Gratitude for your home as well.