Sunday, March 24, 2019

What One Simple Habit Helps Us Break the Grip of Vice?

Do you find yourself and your family sometimes forgetting to practice an attitude of gratitude?

Have acerbic tongues and overly critical eyes ever infected your household?

Well, you're not alone.

Despite a desire to train happy hearts in our home, my family sometimes falls prey to unmeritorious habits:

Complaining. Criticizing. Fault-finding. Nit picking. Ingratitude. Contemptousness.

A host of ill tendencies begin to tarnish our souls, and I sadly notice a developing practice of lambasting, instead of loving one another.

It's ugly, but it's not irreversible.

One simple habit nips such negativity in the bud:

Gratitude and celebrating greatness!

Years ago, I developed a practice of "celebrating greatness" on days when the simple act of piling into our minivan brought more mayhem than merriment to my family.

The practice was simple:

I would ask, "Who wants to hear about their greatness?" and, then, I would name something specific that I had seen or heard each of my children doing well earlier in day, or I'd describe a special moment when I had witnessed them all working or playing together with virtue.

After that, my children would begin to pipe up with their own ideas - spontaneously celebrating one another's individual strengths and, sometimes, commenting on their own as well.

Before we knew it, negativity dissipated and virtue once again became our focus.

Celebrating greatness became a valuable practice for resetting our mouths, hearts, and minds.

Yet, it was more of a reaction than a preventative habit for happiness. We used it more often to reframe or heal rather than to ingrain and promote.

Recently, that has changed.

Overtiredness, puberty, neuro-differences, and more have been getting the best of us all too often lately, and I recognized that my children and would do well to more regularly heed the words in Philippians 4:8-9:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Phil 4: 8-9

So, I decided to get proactive about things and to build a habit for happiness and peace - a habit of gratitude and celebrating greatness. 

The way we are doing so is easy:

During our first car ride of the day, at bedtime, or both, I say, "I'm thankful for..." and name something specific about the day. Then, I ask each of my children - and my husband when he is with us - to follow suit.

After that, I ask who wants to celebrate greatness first, and we each take turns naming something about one another that we are thankful for that day or that we noticed as positive.

Granted, sometimes, due to grumpiness, one of us struggles to find good in the day or in one another. However, usually another of us is more than happy to help out - offering ideas of things to be thankful for and recalling meritorious moments.

Because we know that at least once a day we'll each be asked to verbalize gratitude and greatness, we tend to focus on the true, noble, right, pure, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy a bit more.

Our habit of sharing gratitude and greatness shines a spotlight on virtue and helps break the hold that vice sometimes grips us in.

Might naming something your thankful for and something specifically good about one another on a daily basis turn into a habit for happiness in your family too? What other practices for peace and love do you promote?


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