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Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

“So much has been given to me. I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.” Helen Keller

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, we commonly reflect on the things in our lives for which we are grateful. But, cultivating a year round, day by day practice of gratitude has many life enhancing benefits.

  • People who actively practice gratitude experience less depression and have a more positive outlook on life. Regardless of how difficult life’s circumstances may be at any moment, there are always glimmers of light to be found. Taking the time to reflect on what is good in life helps one to regain and maintain perspective.
  • Cultivating an attitude of gratitude contributes to resiliency. Regularly reflecting on all that is good in your life creates a pattern of positivity. So, when things aren’t going so well, you have the confidence to know that they will be good again. You have a reminder of all that you still have to carry you through times of loss.
  • Expressing gratitude leads to stronger relationships. Letting the people in your life know what you appreciate about them strengthens bonds. Chances are good that they will let you know in return what they appreciate about you!
  • Gratitude is infectious. When you actively express your gratitude, those around you are reminded to be grateful too.

Need some ideas to get you started?

  1. Start a gratitude journal. Find a beautiful blank journal that inspires you and take a few minutes at the start or the end the day to record the first things that pop into your mind for which you are grateful. They don’t have to be big things. Did you hit all the traffic lights green on your way home from work? Write it down!
  2. A fun alternative to a journal is a ‘gratitude jar’. When you notice that you’re feeling especially thankful for something, jot it down on a piece of paper and slip it into a jar. You can even have a family gratitude jar. At a family meal, you can pass the jar around and take turns reading the slips aloud. Try to guess who wrote each one.
  3. Create a gratitude tradition at family dinner. Make it a regular practice to ask each person at the dinner table what they are most grateful for on that particular day.
  4. Take the gratitude challenge on social media. Share your gratitude moments in your social media updates. Let the world know that you have much for which to be grateful.
  5. Connect with nature. Make time to spend reflective moments outdoors. Stepping away from a distracting, busy world into the quiet world of nature provides the opportunity to be grateful for simple things like the sunshine on your face or the sand between your toes.
  6. Do something for someone else. Volunteer, call a relative, prepare dinner for a friend. In service to others, we find appreciation for the riches and blessings in our own lives.