“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero

When my daughter was young, we had an interaction we would repeat any time she had to deal with unpleasant medical tests or procedures. I would say to her, “What’s our FIRST priority?” To which she would answer, “Keep me healthy!” I would follow up with, “What’s our SECOND priority?” To which she would answer, “Keep me healthy!” I would then repeat, “What’s our THIRD priority?” To which she would (of course) answer, “Keep me healthy!” There was one more required round, “What’s our FOURTH priority?” To which she would roll her eyes and reply, “There IS NO FOURTH PRIORITY!” Laughter would follow, making whatever had to happen a slight bit better. While reinforcing the reason for the process (keeping her healthy), it added a level of humor, which took the edge off.

It’s hard when you have children with exceptional needs. Everyday can be a struggle. It’s easy to get caught up in the “why me?’ and forget what’s important. It’s understandable to be overwhelmed and to lose sight of the value of small positive reinforcements. It’s easy to forget to laugh or be grateful. We make a point at home to discuss everything we have to be thankful for – not just at Thanksgiving, but on the other 364 days, too. So, when I found research that showed gratitude improves health, it gave us a double incentive to say thanks – it reminds us what’s important and keeps us healthy, too!

Readings to inspire gratitude: