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Giving Thanks

November is National Gratitude Month, so it’s time to slow down and appreciate the world around you. Research has shown that people who practice gratitude daily are happier and healthier. If you’ve never intentionally practiced gratitude, you might not know where to start. So, let’s start with the basics.

Showing gratitude is a simple way to change your perspective as you focus on the good in your life, not the bad. National Gratitude Month was established in 2015 with the belief that gratitude is essential to lead a happy and fulfilling life.

How do you start expressing gratitude? You need to find and focus on the good. It doesn’t mean you deny the negative things surrounding you but find the good within it. Gratitude has been proven to impact your psychological, physical, and personal well-being. You can learn to deal with life’s chaotic, stressful moments by slowing down and focusing on the good.

When was the last time you intentionally said thank you? Does it feel unnatural to sit down with your thoughts and think about what you’re grateful for? Below are a few ideas you can incorporate into your life if you’d like to start practicing gratitude but don’t know where to start.

  1. Random acts of kindness. Being present and aware throughout the day can help you find opportunities for random acts of kindness. Here’s an example, if you’re running errands, stay off your phone, and you might spot someone who needs help opening the door.
  2. Say hi in the hallway. When you walk past someone in the aisle of the grocery store or at work, say hi! You’ll feel more connected to your community, make others feel included, and maybe spread some joy their way.
  3. Write it down. Before going to bed, spend just 3 minutes and write down what you are grateful for that day. You don’t have to write a novel or have perfect penmanship. You just need to start.

Are you struggling to think of anything good in the world when everything seems to be dark? You can find joy in the simple, small things. Below is a short list that could help you think of something you might take for granted:

  • Someone held the door open for you this morning.
  • There was just enough creamer left for your coffee.
  • Your car had enough gas to not need a fill-up before work.
  • You felt comfortable in the clothes you picked out to wear this morning.
  • Your favorite song was playing on the radio.
  • A coworker helped you complete a task.
  • You had leftovers from dinner that you could enjoy for lunch.
  • It’s a sunny day.
  • It’s your friend’s birthday, and you have a chance to reconnect.
  • You had all the ingredients you needed at home to make dinner.
  • You made it home from work safely.
  • There was hot water for your shower.
  • Your favorite pajamas just came out of the dryer.

It’s easy to focus on the negative and dwell on the bad feelings. But choosing to express gratitude can help you see past that. There are many benefits of practicing gratitude, both mental and physical. Regular practice can have a positive effect on both. If you find yourself dwelling on the bad, maybe it’s time to refocus your attention on the good. Remember, like when you’re trying a new sport or activity, you won’t be perfect right away. The important thing is to stay consistent.

This November, for National Gratitude Month, take a few minutes every day to say thank you for the people and things you have.

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