Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

November has come and gone but the spirit of thanks and giving remains all around us as we head into the holidays. In a few weeks we will again be surrounded by friends and family, feasting on holiday treats, and enjoying life’s simple pleasures! If we take a moment to pause we can appreciate all that we have, all those we love and even the little things we so often take for granted. While Thanksgiving has come and gone, there is no better time than in this season of holiday cheer to count our blessings and begin a gratitude practice to carry with us into the new year.

We each have so much to be grateful for yet as we get stuck in our daily grind and in our inevitable life challenges, this becomes harder to see. According to the Parent Coaching Institute, “what you focus on grows”, and so I encourage all of my parent clients to begin a gratitude practice in order to bring forth into conscious awareness all of which is working, all of which they appreciate, all that they are grateful for – not once a year, but every single day. Once they get in the practice of taking a few moments each day to appreciate their kids, themselves, their family, their life and to tap into all that they are grateful for, they begin to experience their lives more fully and to appreciate more than they ever noticed before.

A new world opens up when we focus on all that we have to be grateful for, rather than on all that is not working or is not as we think it should be. Though some are reluctant at first, most clients have reported continued use of this practice, even post coaching. If “what we focus on [indeed] grows,” then we must focus more on all that is good and working as opposed to all that is not. If we take our gratitude practice a step further and share our appreciations with our children for example, amplifying to them what is good and working and appreciated rather than what is not, we will likely start to see more of that which we wish for in them as well.

A true practice, like any practice, is consistent. Your gratitude practice has to work for you so commit to a method that is doable. I personally like the one-sentence-a-day journals or the iPhone app Day One, but whatever works for you will do! You can also start your practice on Facebook if this helps to keep you accountable. There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are focusing on what is vs. isn’t working! You might even begin by going around the dinner table and involving your kids in the effort! Then share with us all the cute things they said!

And so as Thanksgiving quickly becomes a distant memory and we head full force into the winter holidays, I invite you to pause, to notice, and to join me in saying thanks for all that is working. What are you grateful for today?

Happy Winter Holidays and Happy Parenting,

-Galit Birk, PhD

Galit Birk, PhD is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and Owner of CORE Parent Coaching based in Dallas, Texas. She writes regularly for the CORE blog and guest writes for Dallas Child Magazine’s various blogs and publications. A version of this piece first appeared on DMoms Daily, November 2012.