Mental Health Month: Challenge 2 Thoughts of Gratitude

Ready for your next challenge for Mental Health Month? Great!! This week’s challenge focuses on the thoughts we have. As we go about our daily lives it can be easy to forget the positive experiences we have. Life on a day-to-day basis isn’t about winning the lottery or buying a new car or landing your dream job. Life from day-to-day is about smaller things, a smile that brightened your day, one last big hug from your child before he or she heads off to school, and getting a work assignment done and checked off your list of to-do’s.

Gratitude is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the state of being grateful; thankfulness” (from merriam-webster.com). We can be thankful for any of a number of big and small moments and my goal is to help you improve your mental health by taking notice of the wide range of positive experiences. Taking note of that which we are grateful for is associated with increased mental well-being.

It is easy to miss these small moments as we wait, pray, and/or hope for “bigger” moments to occur. So I challenge you to start taking notice of, and being thankful for, these small moments in your everyday life. As a guide, you can download this free Thoughts of Gratitude Worksheet to help you keep track of the things in your life you are thankful for. At the beginning of the day you can write down those events for the day  you are looking forward to and are thankful for (for example, a job opportunity, great weather, family time, etc.). You also have the option at the end of the day to record events that had occurred that day that were positive. For bonus points you can fill out your Thoughts of Gratitude Worksheet both day and night!!

So I challenge you to record at least once a day those things that you are grateful for in your life.

Speak On It: I Let My 8-Year-Old Drop F-Bombs

Do understand that the title of this Speak On It post does not refer to my own actions but to the title of the article I am discussing. Because although my children are not 8 years old, or even close to it, I will not be allowing them to curse. Period. Also understand I do not curse. I have many friends who do but I do not. And I normally do not take offense to cursing (unless it is clear the speaker is more concerned with squeezing as many profanities as humanly possible into a sentence rather than actually engaging in conversation).

The author of an article posted to the website Your Tango does allow his child to curse, on occasion apparently. The author, Tom Burns, describes how his daughter had been having a particularly difficult time and allowing her to curse seemed to help her to feel better. “I let her mark particularly bad or frustrating occasions with particularly colorful words. And it makes a difference.” I didn’t realize curse words are the only way to speak colorfully. I’ve seen this excuse used a lot to justify the use of inappropriate language. Seems rather limiting to me. It doesn’t say much for the English language if the most colorful way to express negative emotions is only with a four letter word.

Letting my daughter say “f*ck” when she’s in pain is the equivalent of taking a sad friend to a bar, buying them a drink, and sitting next to them in silence just so they know you’re there for them.” Um…but we are talking about a child and not a friend, right? Kids need parents to be role models, guides, protectors, teachers, providers, all that good stuff and more. And children are still growing up, still learning, still pushing boundaries…still maturing. Can we get back to the times when parents were parents and their children were their children and not simply friends?

Right now my oldest child gets corrected for saying “stupid” or “shut up”. Call me old school if you want, but rather than allowing him to get away with using such off-the-cuff language, I encourage him to be thoughtful, descriptive, and clear in what he is trying to say. “It was silly to me when he said that” or “talking about this bothers me” are just a couple of examples of what he is encouraged to say. As he gets older and as his language gets more and more sophisticated I will help him to use the full breadth of his language base to express himself. Because I’m not sitting at a bar with a with an old friend. I’m raising a child to know how to express and cope with feelings in an appropriate way.