Complaining and Gratitude

Complaining. Do your children do it too? Complaints about not wanting to do things unless they are fun. Complaints about doing chores and helping around the house? Complaints about not wanting to do their homework. Complaints, complaints, complaints. The list goes on and on, and if you are anything like me, the complaints were quite simply driving me crazy!!

Honestly, I began to feel like, maybe, I was doing something wrong as a mother. Was I, somehow, not teaching the important lessons of abundance and gratitude? Was I giving in too much, or offering too many choices and options? Was I giving over too much power? Was I allowing a poor habit or way of thinking to be created?

As these questions went round and round in my head, I struggled to find a way to make it stop. I continuously gave reminders about gratitude, attempted discussions about the importance of contributing in our family system, and often times, just said stop. I doled out consequences and at times became frustrated and mad. Sometimes these attempts were successful for a short time, but then the complaining would begin again.

Does any of this sound familiar?

We hear a great deal about the power of gratitude and how engaging in a gratitude practice can transform lives. I had decided to explore this idea and began my own daily gratitude practice. One piece of this practice involved creating a gratitude chart and hanging it on our refrigerator. The chart included a space for each of us to record something we were grateful for every single day.

Every morning as we head into the kitchen to begin our day, we write down what we are grateful for in that moment. Sometimes it is something very big or sentimental, other times it is something simple or even silly. We watch as the chart fills up each month and enjoy reading one another’s “gratefuls”. It has become a fun little tradition that we look forward to and quite enjoy. And without my having planned, it has become the resolution to the problem of complaining.

There is something transforming about taking time out to really think about what you are grateful for each day. There is a sense of pride that comes along with the process and careful attention to what you choose to write down. In this process, you sort through many things you feel gratitude for as you decide which one will be recorded that day. You can’t help but feel a sense of abundance and you can’t help but feel your heart fill with joy. It puts a smile on your face and leaves an imprint in your day.

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but little by little, the complaining stopped. Without discussion, without consequences, and without anger and frustration. There was no longer an issue. One day I simply noticed that it was no longer there. I noticed, and it all fell into place. A gratitude practice truly does have the power to transform, to create a sense of contentment and joy in us all.