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Gratitude: Taking Time to Reflect on What You Have

If you ever get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, you know how out of touch you can get with the things that really matter. But you actually have plenty of things to be grateful for, regardless of the circumstances in which you may find yourself.

Each person has their own unique list of things that bring simple pleasure, feelings of pure joy, or just a sense of comfort each day.

You can be grateful for physical blessings like where you live, the climate you reside in, or even your residence. You might be thankful about certain people being in your life. This may include your kids, your grandma or your best friend.

The most important function of thankfulness is that it allows you to open your heart, mind, and soul to goodness, gratitude, and light.

If you’re unsure how to consciously cultivate gratitude, consider these suggestions:

1. Take five. Allow yourself five minutes each morning to experience thankfulness. Take these moments to simply think about the past day. Say to yourself, “One thing I’m thankful for is___.” Fill in the blank with something you noticed from the last 24 hours. Think on it for a minute or so. Smile about it. Then go on with your morning.

2. Appreciate your world openly. Share your gratitude with others. For example, if you’re chatting on the phone with a friend, you could say something like, “I am so glad that I painted the living room that beautiful light teal color. The sunlight reflects on it so nicely.”

• Another example is, “I went shopping with my sister yesterday and she was so helpful when I wanted to pick out a new dress.” When your verbal acknowledgements to others demonstrate the gratitude you feel, you’ll develop a habit of recognizing what you’re thankful for.

3. Notice the small stuff. Promise yourself you won’t take little things for granted. Because life becomes crowded with people, tasks, and objects, you may feel challenged to notice small bits of wonder in your day. But if you put your mind to it, you’ll be astounded at what you see.

• Open your eyes to the wonders all around you. They won’t cost a dime. A sunset, a warm cup of tea, or an ice-cold glass of water when you get home from work can be great reasons to feel gratitude. The smell of honeysuckle as you walk by the vine or your daughter’s impish smiles are still more things that might remind you of your blessings.

4. Learn to turn your thoughts around. When you discover you’re thinking negative thoughts, imagine a big stop sign and say, “Stop” out loud. Then, replace the stop sign with an image of something around you that you’re grateful for right at that moment. Think about that object, experience, person, or situation and bask in your positive experience.

5. Keep a gratitude journal. If you find you’re having difficulty remembering to notice the things that stir your inner thankfulness, perhaps starting a gratitude journal would help. A journal is a tangible visual aid that will trigger you to think about what you’re grateful for.

• Try just putting put the date on the page and jotting down what you’re grateful for at that time. You can write as much or as little as you wish. Place your journal in a spot where you’ll see it frequently, like on the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or near your favorite chair. This way, you’ll be prompted to experience your gratitude more often.

Being grateful is truly one of the things that makes life worth living!

Each time you consciously decide to experience your thankfulness, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Open your eyes and mind to the people, places, things, and experiences you’re grateful for. You’ll feel so much better about your life.

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