Not Taking Things for Granted: A thoughtful expression of an 11-year-old

FeelLinks Journal and Family Gratitude Jar


Earlier this week, my 11-year-old daughter turned to me, as she was in the midst of perusing the pantry for an after-school snack, and said, “Mom, I am going to stop taking things for granted.” In the first moment after she said this, it felt so ‘out of the blue’.  Then, I quickly realized, it was not so random at all, in fact, it was a very well thought out expression of her feelings.

She went on to tell me that she felt she had taken things in her life for granted (I know, pretty sophisticated thinking for an 11 year old). She specifically mentioned her gratitude and excitement for her very recent return back to the classroom. She did not realize how much she truly missed the environment, peers and staff, until she returned back. She went on to speak of our happy, healthy family, and her ability to finally begin seeing her 93 (nearly 94) year old great-grandfather, Papoo. She elaborated and said, “I will never take for granted the time I get to spend with him.” She expressed that she felt she had taken for granted the time she had spent with her late great-grandmother, Noni, and her grandfather, Poppy. We all miss them very much. She did end her thoughts by smiling and exclaiming with conviction, “I have a good life!”


Great-grandfather with Great-granddaughter

I choose to share this personal story with you because, like my 11-year-old daughter’s “aha moment”, we should all take notice of what we have around us and find gratitude and appreciation for it. I’m not necessarily speaking of tangible items, but rather thinking of “things” more deeply. Whether these “things” seem enormous, big, small, tiny, or seemingly insignificant- all of it IS significant. Living a life with gratitude can support a life of self-worth, resiliency, selfless behavior, and greater joy (According to Psychology Today, lead gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude reduces depression and increases happiness and directly relates to our mental health and feelings of joy). 

There will certainly be days when finding gratitude and appreciation feel harder than others- that’s okay! After the past year and a half we’ve all experienced, our lives and our children’s lives have been filled with a huge mix of emotions. There is one thing I hope we can all agree on- we should all try our best to find the “things” in our lives that we should not take for granted. 

Our family started a ‘gratitude jar’ on January 1st, 2021. We write little notes of gratitude at any moment it springs upon us, write the date, then drop them in the jar. It has definitely been a meaningful and creative way for us to take notice and express our gratitude. We cannot wait to read our notes together, as a family, on December 31st! 

If you would like to start your own gratitude jar, there is no better day to begin than today! 

**A couple of tricks that I find helpful are: place the jar in a central location where it’s visible daily, pre-cut small pieces of paper, grab a writing tool, and place everything right next to the jar. If your child isn’t writing yet, no problem! You might write for them or they could draw a picture. 

*Pictured- FeelLinks journal gratitude jar page, our Waldman Family gratitude jar, and my daughter making memories with her Papoo.

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