Building the ‘Gratitude Muscle’

School girls

There are concrete blessings for kids who learn to count their blessings, the Wall Street Journal recently reported. In one study, high school students with high levels of gratitude reported having stronger marks, less depression and envy, and a more positive outlook than less grateful teens.

But gratitude is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise. You have to use it regularly if you want to see the benefits.

Canada Day is a great opportunity to nurture gratitude in our teens and younger children. As we prepare to celebrate with parades, fireworks and barbecues, we can also explore with our kids the many reasons why it’s great to live in Canada. 

Here are five suggestions for building gratitude muscle this Canada Day:

Compare notes: Spend some free time with a friend, acquaintance or neighbour who has immigrated to Canada. Encourage your kids to ask questions about life elsewhere. How is life different for kids here?

Dollar a day: Brainstorm over a meal about how living on a dollar a day would look. What would have to come off the dinner table to make the budget? What else would have had to go that day?

Watch the news: Have each family member recall a news story that makes them feel grateful to live in Canada. Share stories making the news, such as the war in Syria, or child slavery.

Pick a kids’ issue: Look together at a website exploring a challenge affecting young people, like, where they can learn about child labour and how they can help every time they pick a chocolate bar for a treat.

Start a tradition: Make an online donation to an organization helping children overseas, as a symbol of your family’s gratitude for life in Canada.