Today is Mother’s Day a special day dedicated to celebrating our mothers and expressing our gratitude for having been blessed with her love and caring that enabled us in evolve into the beings we have become. Though not all mothers can be credited with having been exceptional parents, all mothers deserve a trophy for having birthed us and helped us develop into the people we are today.
Some adults are beleaguered by memories of childhood experiences that do not elicit fondness, gratitude or adulation for their mothers. Though painful recollections of childhood may be real, they need not be rehearsed on a day designated for celebrating motherhood. Conversely, this is an opportunity to gather positive recollections that help us feel blessed by who we are and acknowledge our mother’s role in having facilitated our development.
Those who felt blessed by maternal attention, guidance, help and love are more likely to easily praise their mother for all she has done, and the mother she had been to them from childhood on. Those who focus on their mother’s faults create a distance that harms them and their parent.
Robert Emmons, the leading researcher of gratitude, studied one thousand individuals aged eight to 80 years old. He found that those who practiced gratitude “Exhibited physical benefits of stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, fewer aches and pains, exercised more and slept longer.” Psychologically, they were “More alert, joyful and optimistic.” Socially, they were found to practice “More forgiveness, generosity, compassion, optimism and happiness as well as being more outgoing, kind and helpful.” These subjects were also found to be “less lonely and isolated.”
Dr. Emmons summarized: “1. Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. 2. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions. 3. Grateful people are more stress resistant. 4. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth.” These benefits of being grateful surely underscore the mutual “win-win” gains to both the givers and receivers of gratitude.
The hurt that some people harbor since childhood blocks them from becoming more open-hearted in affirming some of their mothers’ past positive behaviors, attitudes and actions. This black and white perspective prevents some adult children from accessing their forgiveness, open-heartedness, appreciativeness and loving feelings toward their mothers.
Dr. Emmons recommendations for becoming more grateful are: “1. Keep a gratitude journal in which you list five things for which you feel gratitude every week. 2. Count your blessings daily and record them. 3. Use a “gratitude jar” in which you deposit a certain amount of money pursuant to being grateful. 4. Think about gratitude as what you can give rather than what you receive.”
Be appreciative of your mother:
- Recognize that humans can change and be worthy of love and gratitude.
- Appreciate your mother’s essence above her actions.
- Trust that mother’s love is instinctual even if it has not been experientially practiced.
- Model loving your mother as you wish to have been loved by her.