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The Practice of Being Grateful

The week of Thanksgiving generally brings about feelings of thanks, gratitude and for some of us, a pause in our day-to-day frenzy. For others, it’s the preparations for a large meal and a launch into the Christmas season. No matter which route is “typical” for you, we’d like to offer you some benefits of and simple tips to get you started on developing a practice of gratitude.

Being grateful improves our mental health by forging a purposeful look at the “wins” in your life. It changes the focus from the negative to positive. For example, you may have left five minutes late for work, but you didn’t have to stop to get gas and you didn’t have a flat tire. Do you want to be around a negative person? Or would you like to be around someone that is happy that the sun is shining? By observing every single small “win” in your life, you knit together a tapestry of well being and over time change your mindset to noticing the good.

Every new skill takes practice. Building a life of gratitude is no different. Here are a few tips to help get you started on practicing gratitude:

1. Observe your day. Look for the smallest thing to be grateful for. Is it a person? An event? The fact that the sun was shining? That you woke up? That you have a job? A warm dwelling? A means of transportation?

2. Can’t think of anything? Take a moment to see, taste, smell, touch and hear things around you. Through our senses we gain appreciation. Have you noticed the beauty of flowers around you, the snowflakes, the trees, the birds, your own body, mind, and ability to think? The list is endless as are the gifts.

3. Be purposeful in your gratitude. Remember that this is a commitment made to yourself. It’s easy to practice anything for an hour or a day but a week? Not so simple. Put a note on your mirror to remember that you committed yourself to count your blessings every day. Ask a friend or family member to help keep you accountable or have them join you in your gratitude practice.

4. Change your mindset to see all good things as positives or gifts. This will help ensure that you don’t take anything for granted. Develop an attitude of gratitude.

Why be grateful? You may sleep better. The brain focused on gratitude can help reduce stress and pain. It can help with depression by diminishing the thoughts of doom and gloom and creating new pathways of thinking. Gratitude can be a direct link for life satisfaction, boosting self esteem and improving overall mental and physical health. There are numerous articles to support these observations.

A final thought…..if you were only left with the things that you gave thanks for yesterday, what would you have?

Happy Thanksgiving.

We are grateful for you.

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