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A Spirit of Gratitude -- Lessons From a 2-Year-Old

| December 16, 2016
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I have a 2-year-old daughter at home named Remy. She is our only child, and admittedly rather spoiled at this point. But, so much fun – she truly is the light of our world. 

Remy is at a very curious stage. For you parents out there, I’m sure you can relate to this. She wants to know, well, everything. And to be honest, we are happy to teach her! Her favorite phrase has been, “Whassat?” Anytime she wants to know about something, it is the same question. I’ll sit down to read her a book: “Dada, whassat?” “That’s a horse” – flip the page – “Dada,whassat?” “That’s a sheep.” On and on it goes until we are through every last page of the barn animals.

As a parent, one of the most rewarding things is to see your child catch on to the things you teach them and watch them grow. It really makes you stop and think about what you want to teach. They are so gullible...I mean…impressionable (insert evil dad-laugh), and you only get one chance at raising them. As much as you try to prepare for parenthood and the different stages your children go through, to a certain extent you learn to simply do your best, learn as you go, and hope you are raising them right.

Since before Remy could speak a word, we have been trying to instill in her a sense of gratitude. Early on, my wife taught her the motion for how to say “thank-you” in sign language and she has been signing please and thank-you ever since. 

While we’ve been intentional about trying to teach her gratitude, it is interesting that recently she flipped the script and taught ME a lesson in gratitude. Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed if something brings her enjoyment, fulfillment, or adds some sort of value to her life, she will tell it “thank-you”; even if it is not a person or something that could receive her gratitude.

The other day, she witnessed a beautiful sunset. She walked out onto the porch, looked up at the sky, her eyes lit up and in her little 2-year-old voice, she said: “Oh WOW! Tank-u, sky! Tank-u!”

Last week we took her to a petting zoo. She had some feed in her hands. The goat came over as she held out her hand and ate the feed. She thought that was the craziest thing. She giggled and said: “Oh my! Tank-u goat!”

Since then, she has also thanked her bubble bath, a guy she saw on a motorcycle, a donut she ate and our Christmas tree.

It is so simple, yet beautiful if you think about it. We often forget a sense of gratitude is beneficial not only for the person receiving it, but also for the one providing it. When we take time to deliberately stop and appreciate the many blessings given to each of us, I truly believe we are the ones that benefit the most.

In a recent article published by Harvard Health, it is noted that their research shows gratitude as having a strong and consistent correlation with overall happiness. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” (Harvard, 2011).

This holiday season, my hope is that you recognize the many blessings given to you and experience gratitude for those things because I believe with gratitude comes contentment. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us here at Summit!

Josh Willink 

Source: http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

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