Saturday, November 26, 2016

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget


“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” —Kahlil Gibran

I have countless holiday memories. Most of them center around faith, family, and traditions.

Very few childhood memories actually include the gifts I received. I distinctly remember the year that I got a blue dirt bike, the evening my brother and I received a Nintendo, and opening socks every year from my grandparents. But other than that, my gift-receiving memories are pretty sparse. Which got me thinking… what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?

To that end, here is an alphabetical list.

35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget:

1. Affirmation. Sometimes one simple word of affirmation can change an entire life. So make sure your children know how much you appreciate them. And then, remind them every chance you get.

2. Art. With the advent of the Internet, everyone who wants to create… can. The world just needs more people who want to…

3. Challenge. Encourage your child to dream big dreams. In turn, they will accomplish more than they thought possible… and probably even more than you thought possible.

4. Compassion/Justice. Life isn’t fair. It never will be – there are just too many variables. But when a wrong has been committed or a playing field can be leveled, I want my child to be active in helping to level it.

5. Contentment. The need for more is contagious. Therefore, one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is an appreciation for being content with what they have… but not with who they are.

6. Curiosity. Teach your children to ask questions about who, what, where, how, why, and why not. “Stop asking so many questions” are words that should never leave a parents’ mouth.

7. Determination. One of the greatest determining factors in one’s success is the size of their will. How can you help grow your child’s today?

8. Discipline. Children need to learn everything from the ground-up including appropriate behaviors, how to get along with others, how to get results, and how to achieve their dreams. Discipline should not be avoided or withheld. Instead, it should be consistent and positive.

9. Encouragement. Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. The simple words that you choose to speak today can offer encouragement and positive thoughts to another child. Or your words can send them further into despair. So choose them carefully.

10. Faithfulness to your Spouse. Faithfulness in marriage includes more than just our bodies. It also includes our eyes, mind, heart, and soul. Guard your sexuality daily and devote it entirely to your spouse. Your children will absolutely take notice.

11. Finding Beauty. Help your children find beauty in everything they see… and in everyone they meet.

12. Generosity. Teach your children to be generous with your stuff so that they will become generous with theirs.

13. Honesty/Integrity. Children who learn the value and importance of honesty at a young age have a far greater opportunity to become honest adults. And honest adults who deal truthfully with others tend to feel better about themselves, enjoy their lives more, and sleep better at night.

14. Hope. Hope is knowing and believing that things will get better and improve. It creates strength, endurance, and resolve. And in the desperately difficult times of life, it calls us to press onward.

15. Hugs and Kisses. I once heard the story of a man who told his 7-year old son that he had grown too old for kisses. I tear up every time I think of it. Know that your children are never too old to receive physical affirmation of your love for them.

16. Imagination. If we’ve learned anything over the past 20 years, it’s that life is changing faster and faster with every passing day. The world tomorrow looks nothing like the world today. And the people with imagination are the ones not just living it, they are creating it.

17. Intentionality. I believe strongly in intentional living and intentional parenting. Slow down, consider who you are, where you are going, and how to get there. And do the same for each of your children.

18. Your Lap. It’s the best place in the entire world for a book, story, or conversation. And it’s been right in front of you the whole time.

19. Lifelong Learning. A passion for learning is different from just studying to earn a grade or please teachers. It begins in the home. So read, ask questions, analyze, and expose. In other words, learn to love learning yourself.

20. Love. …but the greatest of these is love.

21. Meals Together. Meals provide unparalleled opportunity for relationship, the likes of which can not be found anywhere else. So much so, that a family that does not eat together does not grow together.

22. Nature. Children who learn to appreciate the world around them take care of the world around them. As a parent, I am frequently asking my kids to keep their rooms inside the house neat, clean, and orderly. Shouldn’t we also be teaching them to keep their world outside neat, clean, and orderly?

23. Opportunity. Kids need opportunities to experience new things so they can find out what they enjoy and what they are good at. And contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t have to require much money.

24. Optimism. Pessimists don’t change the world. Optimists do.

25. Peace. On a worldwide scale, you may think this is out of our hands. But in relation to the people around you, this is completely within your hands… and that’s a darn good place to start.

26. Pride. Celebrate the little things in life. After all, it is the little accomplishments in life that become the big accomplishments.

27. Room to Make mistakes. Kids are kids. That’s what makes them so much fun… and so desperately in need of your patience. Give them room to experiment, explore, and make mistakes.

28. Self-Esteem. People who learn to value themselves are more likely to have self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. As a result, they are more likely to become adults who respect their values and stick to them… even when no one else is.

29. Sense of Humor. Laugh with your children everyday… for your sake and theirs.

30. Spirituality. Faith elevates our view of the universe, our world, and our lives. We would be wise to instill into our kids that they are more than just flesh and blood taking up space. They are also made of mind, heart, soul, and will. And decisions in their life should be based on more than just what everyone else with flesh and blood is doing.

31. Stability. A stable home becomes the foundation on which children build the rest of their lives. They need to know their place in the family, who they can trust, and who is going to be there for them. Don’t keep changing those things.

32. Time. The gift of time is the one gift you can never get back or take back. So think carefully about who (or what) is getting yours.

33. Undivided Attention. Maybe this imagery will be helpful: Disconnect to Connect.

34. Uniqueness. What makes us different is what makes us special. Uniqueness should not be hidden. It should be proudly displayed for all the world to see, appreciate, and enjoy.

35. A Welcoming Home. To know that you can always come home is among the sweetest and most life-giving assurances in all the world. Is your home breathing life into your child?

Of course, none of these gifts are on sale at your local department store. But, I think that’s the point.

Inspirational Quote for November 26, 2016

“Well done is better than well said.”

A need to take action rather than just talk about it is the clear meaning here. I guess a great many of us occasionally tend to tell all and sundry about a great plan, exciting enterprise, or original idea that we’ve had. Initially, everybody shares our enthusiasm, wishing us good luck and perhaps there are also offers of financial or physical aid. However, after they’ve heard us talk about it, again, and again, and again, with nary a sign that we are actually taking steps to make it a reality, they all get fed up and leave. Wouldn’t it be much better for them and us, if we actually did what we said, and earned a unanimous “well done” rather than the general consensus of “”Here we go again!” Thought so.


Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance

What is grit? In this interview, University of Pennyslvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth explains that grit is the capacity to work hard and stay focused. She shares why grit is necessary in addition to talent, and why talent needs the drive that grit provides in order for one to be successful.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Teens Overestimate the Bad Behavior of Peers

By Sarah W. Helms

All the cool kids aren’t doing it, says a new study. In fact, teens underestimate good behavior among their classmates.

When you think about teenage peer pressure, plenty of images likely come to mind. Perhaps a classic after-school TV special or dramatic D.A.R.E. program skit with a dimly lit basement and one friend saying “Come on, everybody’s doing it.” Indeed, a good deal of prior research has focused on direct forms of pressure between friends.
But if these images don’t fully resonate with your own memories of high school, you may be onto something. New research suggests that although these direct forms of pressure may exist, teens likely are influenced in other, more indirect ways, too.
Think back to high school. You probably had a pretty good sense of who the cool kids were, as well as who was getting high or having sex or who was studying all day long. Everyone knew what was going on, right?
But what if we were all wrong?
According to this new research, teens think they know how much their peers engage in a variety of potentially risky behaviors such as substance use, theft, vandalism, and sex. They also think they know how much their peers engage in healthier behaviors, such as studying and exercising. The only problem is, they’re wrong. And not only that, but the more wrong they are, the more likely they’ll be to increase their own substance use over the next few years.
It’s a classic high school version of “Keeping Up with the Joneses” that may place some teens at risk for unhealthy or even dangerous outcomes.

Overestimating the bad and underestimating the good

So how did we find this out? We examined the perceptions of over 400 high school students at two different schools over the course of several years in two separate studies on peer influence.
In the first phase of the study, 235 10th graders were studied at a middle-income, suburban high school in the Northeast. First, they identified which of their peers belonged in which social crowds—the jocks, popular kids, burnouts, and nerds—using a validated system of peer nominations. Within this process, students could nominate which of their peers belonged to which crowd, and researchers could create standardized scores based on how often individuals were nominated.
Next, students reported their perceptions of how frequently those crowds engaged in behaviors including smoking, drinking, marijuana use, sexual intercourse, oral sex, vandalism, theft, studying and exercising. They also reported on how frequently they actually engaged in these same behaviors, enabling researchers to make direct comparisons between real behaviors and perceptions of behaviors.
It may come as no surprise that the jocks and popular teens consistently emerged as the highest-status groups in the school. These teens were well-liked, respected, and at the top of the social hierarchy.
What is surprising, though, is how much teens consistently overestimated the risk behaviors of their peers. In virtually every case, the jocks and popular teens did not use more substances, have more sexual partners, or break the rules any more than all the other kids at school. But they were perceived as doing all these risky behaviors a lot.
And these misperceptions also ran in the opposite direction. Take studying, for example—a decidedly less “cool” thing to do during adolescence. Teens over-attributed studying to the nerds by far, even though the nerds really didn’t study more than anyone else in the school.
In short, the teens saw their peers through a caricatured lens. Jocks must be exercising and having sex all the time, then partying all weekend with the popular kids, right? Because that’s what the cool kids do. And nerds must be studying every waking moment…because they’re nerds. But these caricatures were simply wrong.

Why misperceptions matter

Perhaps if the research stopped here, you’d have an interesting tidbit to share at your next high school reunion. “See, we really weren’t all that different after all!” But there’s more. And this is where the misperceptions become concerning from a public health perspective.
In a second phase of the study, a separate group of 166 ninth graders from a rural, low-income high school in the Southeast provided the same information—who are the cool kids, how much do you think those kids smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and smoke pot, and how much do you actually use those same substances? Only this time, the students were followed until the end of their junior year.
Not only were the cool kids misperceived all over again, essentially replicating the findings of the first study, but the misperceptions mattered. Thinking that the cool kids engaged in more substance use as a ninth-grader predicted a faster rate of growth in your own substance use over the high school years. Of course, many youth may increase their substance use over those years anyway. But these findings showed that the rate of increase was much steeper among those who misperceived the social norms the most.
As you can see, this type of indirect “pressure” to keep up with the social norm is quite different from the “Come on, everybody’s doing it” pressure we often warn teens about. It is also difficult to address. Some prior work has attempted to explicitly teach young adults about the “real” social norms. For example, fliers around a college campus might tell students exactly how often other students at their school drink alcohol.
Unfortunately, these campaigns typically are unsuccessful—either because they are easily dismissed as outright lies or because students think those “average” numbers don’t apply to their specific fraternity, sports team, or social group. Additionally, there is always a risk that these campaigns inadvertently could suggest to infrequent substance users that they are “underperforming” compared to their peers—certainly not a winning public health message to spread.
At the end of the day, more research is needed to understand how best to intervene with teens. But the current work does show one clear message: all the cool kids are not doing it. Or at least not as often as you may think. Whether you’re a high school freshman or an adult surveying your own social landscape, this is probably an important message to keep in mind. Because striving to meet what you think is supposed to be the social norm seems to be a losing battle.

Inspirational Quote for November 25, 2016

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.”

Let’s imagine you have a garden okay? Now, in order to keep this garden looking beautiful and a joy to behold, there’s a great deal of effort and hard work required. Constant care and attention, i.e. weeding, planting, watering, dead heading, and protection from predators and pests. Take a moment to compare this with your mind and/or life at the moment. Can you see the similarity between the work needed to keep your physical garden in tip top condition and the work and attention needed, by you, to maintain, encourage and ensure your mind and life function to the very best of your ability? Happy gardening!


How Libraries Save Lives

--by Maria Popova

“Knowledge sets us free, art sets us free. A great library is freedom,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in contemplating the sacredness of public libraries“If librarians were honest, they would say, No one spends time here without being changed,” Joseph Mills wrote in his ode to libraries“You never know what troubled little girl needs a book,” Nikki Giovanni wrote in one of her poems celebrating libraries and librarians.

A beautiful testament to that emancipating, transformative power of public libraries comes from one such troubled little girl named Storm Reyes, who grew up in an impoverished Native American community, had her life profoundly changed, perhaps even saved, by a library bookmobile, and went on to become a librarian herself. She tells her story in this wonderful oral history animation by StoryCorps:

The piece was adapted into an essay in Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work(public library) — the collection of tender, touching, and deeply humane stories edited by StoryCorps founder Dave Isay that also gave us pioneering astronaut Ronald McNair, who perished in the Challenger disaster, remembered by his brother.

Here is Reyes’s story, as it appears in the book:
Working and living in migrant farmworkers’ fields, the conditions were pretty terrible. My parents were alcoholics, and I was beaten and abused and neglected. I learned to fight with a knife long before I learned how to ride a bicycle.

When you are grinding day after day after day, there’s nothing to aspire to except filling your hungry belly. You may walk down the street and see a row of nice, clean houses, but you never, ever dream you can live in one. You don’t dream. You don’t hope.

When I was twelve, a bookmobile came to the fields. I thought it was the Baptists, because they used to come in a van and give us blankets and food. So I went over and peeked in, and it was filled with books. I immediately — and I do mean immediately — stepped back. I wasn’t allowed to have books, because books are heavy, and when you’re moving a lot you have to keep things minimal. Of course, I had read in the short periods I was allowed to go to school, but I’d not ever owned a book.

Fortunately, the staff member saw me and waved me in. I was nervous. The bookmobile person said, “These are books, and you can take one home. Just bring it back in two weeks.” I’m like, “What’s the catch?” He explained there was no catch. Then he asked me what I was interested in.

The night before, an elder had told us a story about the day that Mount Rainier blew up and the devastation from the volcano. So I told the bookmobile person that I was nervous about the mountain blowing up, and he said, “You know, the more you know about something, the less you will fear it.” And he gave me a book about volcanoes. Then I saw a book about dinosaurs, and I said, “Oh, that looks neat,” so he gave me that. Then he gave me a book about a little boy whose family were farmers. I took them all home and devoured them.

I came back in two weeks, and he gave me more books, and that started it. By the time I was fifteen, I knew there was a world outside the camps, and I believed I could find a place in it. I had read about people like me and not like me. I had seen how huge the world was, and it gave me the courage to leave. And I did. It taught me that hope was not just a word.

When I left, I went to vocational school, and I graduated with a stenographer’s degree. Then, when Pierce County Library had an opening, I applied and was hired. I got to spend thirty-two years helping other people make a connection with the library. I have a deep, abiding commitment to them. Libraries save lives.
Complement this particular portion of the thoroughly humanizing Callings with Thoreau on the sacredness of public libraries, Robert Dawson’s photographic love letter to public libraries, and Maurice Sendak’s forgotten, fantastic vintage posters celebrating libraries and reading.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Inspirational Quote for November 24, 2016

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Very sensible advice if you ask me! We may have a great idea in mind or a task to perform, and so mentally work out how we are going to proceed, what materials (if any) we will require, tools, time scale, cost, etc. etc. However, and this is very important, we actually need to take the physical steps or actions needed in order for us to progress re or nothing will get done! In other words, put very simply, “Get your butt in gear and get going NOW!”


Thanksgiving Spotlight on Gratitude

--by Shari Swanson

On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln set aside the last Thursday of November as a day to give thanks, a new national holiday, Thanksgiving. He urged his fellow citizens then embroiled in civil war to not lose sight of the gifts surrounding them, among them "fruitful fields and healthy skies." Lincoln understood that, even in the worst of times, gratitude is essential.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, 153 years after Lincoln's pronouncement, perhaps it is just as important to set aside time for deep reflection and gratitude as it was during the Civil War.

To help you find a deep sense of gratitude in this holiday season, we look back through prior articles on the issue and offer this Daily Good Spotlight on Gratitude.

Science shows us that cultivating a sense of gratitude is beneficial to our health in many interesting ways. People who practice gratitude have stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure. They tend to exercise more and take better care of their health. Their sleep is longer and more refreshing.

Psychologically, those who practice gratitude take more joy and pleasure in life and experience higher levels of positive emotions. They feel more alert, alive and awake in their lives.

Socially, a gratitude practice leaves people more outgoing, forgiving, helpful, generous, and compassionate. Gratitude improves relationships. Focusing on their blessings leaves people less lonely and isolated and more ready to engage in their communities. Indeed, gratitude helps us to deeply care for one another and help our fellow human beings. A focus on the positive things to be grateful for corrects our innate tendency to focus on stress-inducing incidents, the ones triggering the fight or flight response. Being grateful can actually override our habitual and instinctive responses to flee or fight and cultivate a response to be heroic or to counteract racial biases.

Gratitude also encourages us to focus on the present, to appreciate the value of something as we have it. We appreciate things anew that we may have begun to take for granted. We recognize the unexpected blessing in the difficult circumstance.  It, essentially, magnifies the pleasures we get in life by focusing our attention there.

Moreover, gratitude can block toxic or negative emotions. You simply can't be envious and grateful at the same time; they're incompatible feelings. Accordingly, your focus is on what you do have rather than what you don't, and your sense of appreciation for your own life deepens.  Gratitude has even been shown to have a noticeable effect in helping people to recover more quickly from stress and trauma.

So how do we cultivate a gratitude practice? Many have found gratitude journals to be helpful. By writing down three positive things at the end of the day into your journal, you focus on the positive. You choose to see your daily experiences in a way that makes you grateful even for the challenges and disappointing aspects of the day. If you couple the gratitude journal with a list of things that went well and a guess as to why they went well, you can begin to see how your own actions result in positive consequences.

Imagining your life without something or someone, or mental subtraction, can be a useful tool in cultivating gratitude. Similarly, abstaining from something you enjoy may help you to savor it again when it is reintroduced.

Perhaps, rather than a gratitude journal, you may want to keep a gratitude jar, a place to drop a few coins every time you have a grateful thought. As the jar fills, you will have a tangible offering for someone in need.

Finally, we can be grateful for our opportunities to give as Mother Teresa was when she worked with the sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta. Her work allowed her the opportunity to grow and deepen her spirituality. Our opportunities to care for family members, to tend to the sick, to feed the poor are all things we can be grateful for: we have the ability to help the world with our words, gifts, and actions.

Indeed, as out gratitude practice deepens, it is only natural that we seek out ways to express that gratitude in the world around us.  Many people love to write thank you notes to people who have enriched their lives.  Some use their gifts to share music,  dancephotographs, poetry, artmusicgardeninggiving generouslyfeeding others. Anything you love, really, can be offered to others as an expression of gratitude. The common denominator among them is lifting your thoughts away from your own worries and troubles in order to realize and share the gifts you have received.

So, as we enter the holiday season, reach deep into your heart to count your blessings and let the abundance you feel spill over into your own unique expression of that gratitude.                                                

Shari Swanson is a lawyer, teacher, writer, and member of ServiceSpace where she works as a writer/editor for Daily Good and Kindful Kids. You can find her at or

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to Say Thanks Without Feeling Indebted

By Jill Suttie

Gifts should make us feel grateful—but sometimes we only feel guilty or obligated to reciprocate. Here are four ways to stay grateful.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s hard not to think about the healing power of gratitude in our lives. Feeling grateful can give us a warm glow of happiness, increase our trust, and make us want to help others in return. But when we receive something from others, we don’t always feel grateful.
In fact, we may feel indebted instead.
Indebtedness arises when we believe that something we have been given was perhaps cloaked in a hidden price tag or incurs obligation. Think of the boss who praises your work ethic, or that certain friend who helped you move furniture. In those cases, you may feel that you are expected to repay them in some way. The boss may expect you to work late; the friend might ask to borrow money—and offhandedly remind you of that time he helped move the couch.
Research suggests that there are some important differences between experiencing gratitude and indebtedness. For example, people who feel indebted tend to experience more negative emotions and feel stressed rather than uplifted, because they are worried about repayment. Indebtedness may also lead to less positive feelings about a benefactor and less inclination to want to help them out in the future.
There are many factors that can influence whether or not giving to another will elicit gratitude or indebtedness—or some combination of the two. Researchers have found one’s feelings of gratitude and indebtedness can be affected by the relationship between a giver and benefactor, the size of the gift, and the perceived intention of the giver—meaning, whether or not the receiver believes the giver is being benevolent or hoping to get something in return. In general, we tend to feel more positive feelings associated with gratitude when the person giving to us is someone emotionally close to us, gives more generously, and is perceived to be acting out of benevolence.
Science also suggests that some people may be more likely to feel indebted than others because of personal characteristics. For example, some research has shown that men seem more likely to feel indebted than women when receiving an unexpected gift, perhaps because of societal values of independence and the myth of the self-made man. It’s hard to feel grateful when doing so suggests you have others to thank for your success, which may explain why so many of my women friends complain about the lack of thanks they get from their husbands when they do something nice for them.
Culture also seems to play a role in whether or not we feel indebted. Some studies suggests that people from East Asian cultures are more likely to feel a combination of gratitude and indebtedness when receiving a gift, in part because of the cultural value placed on reciprocity. However, even in East Asian cultures, there is research suggesting gratitude rather than indebtedness is a more powerful motivator for building and maintaining social relationships.

Four ways to make the most of gratitude

So what does this all mean? As we enter the holiday season, we may want to think more carefully about how to encourage feelings of gratitude while minimizing any negative impacts due to indebtedness. Here are some of the things research suggests we can do.

1. Keep the focus on others, not yourself

Just like with the pursuit of happiness, it’s probably best to focus on others and your relationships when practicing gratitude—not on the potential benefits to yourself. Otherwise, you won’t really be experiencing gratitude, per se.
“Gratitude is an other-focused emotion, where we’re focused on what someone else has done for us,” says gratitude researcher Philip Watkins. “If we focus on that, I think authentic gratitude naturally results.”
Some research supports the importance of having an outward focus to avoid indebtedness. In one study, researchers found that someone with a more of a self-focused attention in general will tend to experience indebtedness more than gratitude. In another study, participants being more concerned with seeking safety and security in a relationship—a benefit to oneself—led them to experience significantly less gratitude and more indebtedness than when their central concern was in nurturing a relationship—a more outwardly focused goal.
“The problem with the pop-psychology approach to gratitude is that we’ve emphasized happiness so much as the result of gratitude that we tend to focus on gratitude as a means to happiness,” Watkins says. “It is; but when we’re focusing on it as a means to happiness instead of what gratitude is in and of itself—appreciating what someone else has done for us—it’s likely to backfire.”

2. Give gifts freely, without strings attached

When giving gifts, it’s important to give freely and without an expectation of getting something in return. If people think you are asking them to reciprocate in some way or that you are trying to obligate them, they will be much less likely to feel grateful. Additionally, they will be less likely to want to give back to you or even to pay the generosity forward to someone else in their social network.
Luckily, the monetary cost of a gift is not that important for eliciting gratitude: What seems to matter is that you are thoughtful around your gift-giving, taking the person’s preferences and needs into account.
Besides, giving gifts freely with a generous spirit is associated with many of its own rewards, including happiness. You will be more likely to enjoy the experience when you give without expectation, and produce genuine feelings of gratitude and connection among the recipients, too.
“Our research shows that if you give something to get something from a person, you’re less likely to get something from them anyway—there’s a reactive effect,” says Watkins. “Just focusing on the joy of giving itself, rather than what the gift might get you from the person, needs to be the focus.”

3. Practice gratitude even if you’re not sure it’s totally sincere

This seems like a crazy idea. Why would we want to practice gratitude even when we’re not exactly feeling it?
The reason is that research seems to suggest that deliberate practices of gratitude don’t just affect the naturally grateful, but also those who don’t enjoy gratitude practices or who tend to be more narcissistic, says Watkins.
“In all the intervention studies I’ve done, they’re always students doing it for course credit; but it still works,” says Watkins. “We tend to emphasize that you really need to want to do gratitude to do it well. But, you know what? Maybe not.”
Does that mean we should encourage other people (e.g., our children) to practice gratitude in some formal way? The answer is probably “yes,” but some with some important caveats. Children learn more from a parent who is modeling gratitude than from a parent who insists their kids “do what I say, not what I do,” says Watkins.
Some research suggests that children can fairly easily be prompted to have a grateful mindset, which leads to benefits like more positive emotion. Sitting down with a child and helping them to think about the thoughtfulness of others or the sacrifices made on their behalf might prompt them to respond with more gratitude than simply putting them through their paces, says Watkins. 
Still, Watkins suggests that we may want to avoid forcing it. For example, if we are practicing gratitude around the dinner table on Thanksgiving, it’s probably best to not enforce strict turn-taking, but to simply invite people to consider their blessings. Since gratitude like other positive emotion seems to be somewhat contagious, others may chime in anyway, creating a spiral of good feelings.

4. Stay open to the joy of giving and receiving

Gratitude naturally makes us feel good. But, knowing how to nurture positive emotion in your life in general—perhaps by taking a walk in nature, talking with a close friend, or listening to music—might help you to create a spiral of good feelings that can lead to more gratitude and less indebtedness. People who know how to savor positive emotions may be particularly prone to experiencing gratitude, though the research on that is not definitive.
Practicing mindfulness meditation may also help us to be more attentive to the gifts in our lives, as well as to the people who are responsible for providing them. Perhaps that is why mindfulness and gratitude are often promoted together and seem to interact for increasing well-being.
Watkins suggests that we can be more intentional around our gift-giving, as well as with our gratitude. Too often, he says, we give because we’re expected to do so, and we lose touch with the fact that giving is a choice. Instead of operating mindlessly, we can think about the other person and stay open to the joys of giving.
“Just remembering that I don’t have to do it, but I want to, and remembering to enjoy the act of giving itself,” he says. “To me that’s the key.”