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The benefits of practicing gratitude

Have you ever asked yourself, "What am I truly grateful for in my life?" If so, you may already be practicing gratitude. If this isn't a common practice of yours, this may be a good time to start. Gratitude helps us realize what we have. Being aware of what we're grateful for can decrease our tendency to want more all the time. Plus, gratitude helps us see our situation in a way that opens up our thinking to new solutions. 

Research has proven the positive benefits of practicing gratitude. Daily gratitude sessions can improve your alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy levels. You may also experience: 

  • less depressed thoughts
  • less stress, worry, anxiety
  • progress toward personal goals
  • a willingness to help others
  • a desire to exercise more regularly

Practicing gratitude can become a positive habit, but only with continued practice. Here are a few tips to help you make it a part of your daily routine. 

Start small: Write in a gratitude journal for as little as five minutes a day, three times a week. This practice will help you to be thankful for what you have. The more you learn to appreciate all that you already have, the more fulfilled you will become. 

Keep your journal close by: Buy a small journal to keep at your bedside or find apps for your mobile device. I like Gratitude 365 or Gratitude to Bliss. This will make it easy to jot down a few thoughts whenever it's convenient.

Practice, practice, practice: Take a few minutes each day to write three positive thoughts about your day or what you are thankful for. This practice has the potential to change your life!  

Express gratitude toward others: You may even want to go beyond writing in a gratitude journal and express your gratitude toward others. This can be done by writing a gratitude letter and mailing it, or even more powerful, calling someone to share why he or she makes you feel grateful. You not only will make the recipient joyful, but this act will significantly increase your own happiness. 

Share with children: Sharing this practice with children is extremely impactful. Research indicates children who are shown how to have an attitude of gratitude actually achieve greater life success. They get better grades, are more pro-social and get more involved in their communities. Ultimately, the research tells us they lead happier, healthier lives. You may even want to encourage older children to have their own gratitude journals or engage younger children in this practice by talking about it over dinner or bedtime routines. Children learn by example, so if they see you doing this, they are more likely to incorporate this practice themselves. 

Two Wolves is an old Cherokee Indian legend that illustrates the battle between good thoughts and bad thoughts in our lives. Here is how the story goes: 

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you—and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic with you and I hope it encourages you to incorporate this practice into your daily routine! May you experience many great blessings this holiday season!

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