Teaching Gratitude

I'm not sure you can teach gratitude. I've tried, and it ain't easy.

I think it can be learned, but I have not figured out a way to teach it. 

When you teach something, you are translating something known to you to someone else. You are transmitting an understanding that you have to someone who does not yet have it, like how to add 3 digit numbers, how to write a sentence, or why the Pilgrims came to America.

But gratitude is not like that from my experience.

I've tried with 4 year olds and 24 year olds and many ages in between, but it seems to me that while gratitude can be learned, it cannot be taught.


Because gratitude is not something one person transmits to another. It is not like math or social studies or grammar. It is not something one person gives to another. It is something you give to yourself.

You can learn it, but you cannot teach it, and I think that is exactly why the phrase "practice gratitude" exists. 

If you want to learn something, and get good at it, you have to practice it. A lot. How do you practice gratitude? Do you do it daily, or only when it's easy and convenient?

Here are some questions I asked the middle school girls I work with when we tried to practice gratitude together:

1) When is it hard to be grateful?

2) What does being grateful feel like?

3) What is the opposite of gratitude?

4) How do we express gratitude?

5) Why does gratitude matter?

I think it's worth thinking about since it's something that we can all learn but never really teach. It's something you give to yourself, and from my experience, it's something that makes all the difference. 

Practice gratitude this week and the next... and the next. Not just because it's Thanksgiving, but because there is always, always something to be thankful for.