As the weather gets colder, news seems to always be getting worse, and traditional end-of-the-year holiday plans have become either limiting or cancelled altogether, it can be difficult to find something to be grateful for, much less multiple things. Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can make finding the positives in day-to-day life impossible, and these outside events can worsen these feelings of hopelessness and negativity too.
While we understand that finding the positives in everyday life can sometimes feel like a daunting task, we wanted to encourage an activity for you or you to recommend to your child. This activity tries to recognize that despite the large waves of negative events, news, and feelings, there are still glimmers of hope and good that are present. In this activity, try to list something that you have been grateful for over the past few months that starts with each letter of the alphabet. Some of them could be a whole phrase or sentence describing an event that made you happy, while others can be a single word. You and your child can list your favorite foods that you’ve eaten recently, the podcasts or artists that you’ve been listening to, or the people that you’ve been speaking to that have been a huge source of support. Obviously, some letters are going to be easier than others (we’re pretty sure most of us aren’t grateful for “xylophones”), so you can play around a bit with how that letter sounds and come up with something close enough. This isn’t meant to be a stressful activity where you have to match everything up perfectly, but is instead a chance to come up with a longer list of items that have brought you some sort of joy during these “unprecedented times.”
After you’re done, take a look at each item on the list. Now, after each item in the alphabet, take some time to write down why this thing made you happy. What feelings did it give you? How often do you engage with this thing? Doing this will give you a chance to really focus on the positives and gratitude instead of simply saying that this thing made you happy.
You can choose to do whatever you want with this list, but we hope taking some time out and seeing just how much there is to be grateful for – no matter how big or how small – helps remind you that there is always a light in the darkness.
Have you talked to your child about gratefulness? Do you have these discussions while making sure to recognize that being positive and grateful can be difficult?