Tis the season that we take a pause, and think about what we are thankful for. I recently hosted my family for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I had come down with a really nasty cold, and could not have cooked for 13 people without the help of my daughter, Margot.
One of our family traditions is that we go around the table and say what we are thankful for. (Family and health is not allowed, because everyone is always thankful for that). Some of the kids were thankful for nice teachers, while others were thankful for a good adjustment to high school. My son was thankful to be able to attend The University of Alabama, while my daughter is thankful to be graduating from Indiana University in May. We made if through the meal without any political disagreements, which has not always been the case.
In thinking about this month’s blog, I began to wonder if there might be a connection between gratitude and creativity. As I started to research, I came across an article by Joanne Foster, EdD that focuses on the importance of encouraging kids to harness gratitude. She talks about how kid’s lives can be very busy. Kids engage in all kinds of activities; sports, creative pursuits other after school activities and family vacations. Foster does question if kids feel “entitled” or take things for granted? Great question!
Well, I can tell you, that living in New York City is a fast-paced life. I cannot speak for other places, but are kids missing the gratitude memo? There is lots to be grateful for, and it is our job as parents to instill that in our kids. Have you ever seen a really bratty, ungrateful kid? Maybe they are in a store with their parents, wanting more, and not happy with what their parent is offering? It is gratitude that helps us focus on what we have, rather than what we lack.
So how does gratitude connect to creativity?
Scientific studies have proven that there is a link between gratitude and creative problem-solving. When we experience positive emotions, we enhance our ability to solve problems and come up with more ideas for action. (Deepak Chopra). Researchers at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro argue that gratitude in children involved perspective taking and emotional knowledge, the develop at ages 3-5.
How do we foster ideas of gratitude that can help lead to a creative mind?
The Great Good Institute in Berkley, California suggests the following:
NOTICE: Get into the habit of noticing happy or beautiful moments and state these out loud.
THINK: Ask questions when your child receives a gift, such as “Why do you think you received this gift?’ Did this person have to give it to you?
FEEL: Start a conversation about how gratitude feel. Where do you feel gratitude in your body? Do you think you can start it when someone else feel grateful?
DO: Encourage actions such as writing thank you cards, saying thank you, and volunteering to help others.
These types of actions and discussions will contribute to a child who is more appreciative, self -aware, and as a result, happy. After all, it is not happiness that makes us grateful. People who live lives that include gratitude are able to create their own happiness. Starting this with children now will help lead them to happiness.
This is the connection to improving one’s creativity. When we allow ourselves to experience emotions such as gratitude, happiness, and play, we can remember more vividly, think outside of the box and make unusual connections.