THE BLOG
11/22/2013 12:49 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

Beyond the Turkey: Could Your Family's Grateful Life Begin This Thanksgiving?

Why not use this Thanksgiving Day as the first step toward becoming a more grateful family? Giving thanks for one's blessings on this holiday is traditional. Feeling grateful every day is an attitude, a way of experiencing life.

If you want to cultivate gratitude as a family value, the following questions may help you make gratitude an integral, daily part of your family's life.

How can we give thanks every day?

Focus on creating both individual and family gratitude rituals. Keep gratitude journals. Be more physically affectionate with one another. Make an effort to express your appreciation to and encouragement of others: the dinner table is a natural forum to do this. Family members offering their daily thanks helps establish gratitude as a priority in your family.

What do we take for granted that we might express thanks for every day?

We all need to open our eyes and appreciate our daily gifts -- food, shelter, clothing, good health, friendship, the beauty of nature, and the kindness of others. Talking about ways to increase our awareness of these daily blessings is productive.

Is doing for others a way of expressing gratitude?

Discuss how helping others is gratitude in action. You might not only prepare and/or help serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter, but also talk about how your family can make a commitment of time and service to this shelter on a regular basis. Expressing thanks by actively helping others in an ongoing manner can be one of your family's "gratitude goals."

What attributes do you possess that you are thankful for?

This self-examination encourages self-gratitude, helping us pause to appreciate our skills, talents, character and personality traits. If we've lost sight of our special gifts, this gives family members an opportunity to point them out to us: "You are the best listener." "You always manage to cheer us up when we're down." "You can fix anything that's broken."

Who has treated you with kindness and generosity, and how would you like to thank that person?

Gratitude can take many forms -- a homemade gift, a thank-you card, a phone call, a spontaneous favor. Remembering those who have made us feel special and valued encourages us to become more aware and appreciative of human kindness. You might discuss ways to show your gratitude by passing on a person's kindness, paying it forward through your own acts of generosity.

Teaching your children by example how to make their gratitude known is at the core of teaching them how to appreciate and celebrate the abundance in their lives. This is the awareness and lessons learned throughout a lifetime, not merely discussions we have at Thanksgiving dinner.

Wishing you a grateful life,
Carleton Kendrick