It’s the most wonderful time of year where gratitude is on display for all to see. Why is gratitude such a GREAT thing? Gratitude above anything else puts all of us in a state of grace to feel good about what we already have in our life. The holiday season if we choose, gives us the opportunity to express gratitude in so many ways. Gratitude can be magical at this time of year. Maybe that is a big part of what makes this time of year what it is and without it we can feel lonely or lost. We all have things to be grateful for – even when we have to look for them or dig for them. At this time of year, we put ourselves in a bigger state of grace when we give gifts of appreciation and love to our family and friends, when we make more donations to people who need our help and when we take extra time to write special notes in holiday cards, just to name a couple.
Unfortunately, sometimes showing gratitude ends after Auld Lang Syne. Imagine if more of us decided to keep practicing gratitude and sharing optimism for the entire year? What kind of effect could that have, not just on others, but on yourself? The impact it has on your own well-being can be overwhelming. I know this from experience. Some of the positive effects that showing gratitude on a regular basis can have on our being include:
- Increased feelings of optimism, joy and happiness. We are happiest when we are grateful!
- Strengthened immune system. We are healthier when we are grateful!
- Lower feeling of loneliness. We feel more connected when we are grateful!
- We sleep better with less anxiety. Even our Z’s are better when we are grateful!
By practicing gratitude and thankfulness daily, even weekly, it can help better our perspective. We will attract more of what it is we want! I practice gratitude almost every day. If I think I don’t have time to write in my gratitude journal, then while I am walking or driving I will list out 10 things I am grateful for. When I go to sleep at night, I fall asleep thinking about the good things that happened that day that I am grateful for. Which means I fall asleep smiling.
Improve Your Optimism
If you are looking to improve your level of optimism and increase your overall well-being, try a few of these exercises:
- Sit down and write a letter to someone (not necessarily someone you know) and thank them for something they have done. This can make quite the impact on their lives and can increase their level of happiness, and yours. Even if you don’t send it (which I hope you will), it will increase the level of grace you feel inside.
- Reach out to 3 of the people you love and tell them how much you value them and what they mean to you. Too many people forget to do this and it can do wonders for the relationships you have with them, especially at this time of year. You never know how someone is really feeling until you peel back the layers and be with them.
- At the end of each week, find a quiet spot and reflect on the prior week. Write down five things that happened during the week that you’re grateful for. This little exercise can increase your optimism and your happiness right away!
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
John F. Kennedy
Ways to Build Gratitude
- Make a list of everything you are grateful for. Write till you exhaust the ideas that come to you.
- Every morning, when you wake up, have a sentence that you say out loud. Mine is “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
- Keep a gratitude journal and write 10 things you love in your life every time you can.
- Disrupt a stressful moment with a smile and remember what is good that is happening.
- Balance out your complaints with positive thoughts. Rein the negativity back in.
I recently heard a word that I had never heard before: brutiful. The combination of life is brutal and life is beautiful. Life is truly both things and when we embrace both there is a peace within us that happens. We are living in uncertain times and now, more than ever, it’s important to be optimistic for a joyful and positive 2017.
I wish you all the happiest last days of 2016 and from my family to yours, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the Happiest of New Years!