Five Tips for Practicing Gratitude

by Kay Blankenship, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

The month of November represents the beginning of autumn and has been designated as National Gratitude Month. Nature celebrates this time of year in a burst of color that is soon followed by cool weather and falling leaves, as it prepares for dormancy and a well-earned season of rest. The quote, “Autumn shows us how beautiful it is to let things go,” by an unknown author, is very fitting. We can embrace this time of year by letting go, and preparing for rest and reflection on what is good in our lives.

A simple way to think of gratitude is that it allows us to appreciate what we have in our lives and not the things we don’t. This doesn’t mean that we don’t acknowledge the difficult things that we are dealing with, but rather it is a conscious effort to find and focus on the good and be grateful.

Gratitude has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Research has found a reciprocal relationship between gratitude and depression. The more gratitude a person feels the less depressed they are and when a person is less depressed, it is easier to feel grateful. Gratitude also improves our relationships. It helps us feel more connected to others and helps us have more self-compassion and see ourselves in a less critical or negative way.

There are many ways to incorporate gratitude into our daily lives. Here are a few simple and easy ideas that you may want to try.

1. Make a gratitude list. It’s easy. Just grab an old notebook or piece of paper and everyday list three things, or people that you are grateful for. You can start with simple things such as a hot cup of coffee, your pet, or a sunny day.

2. Create Gratitude “Thank You Notes”. Think of people, friends, family, coworkers who you appreciate and are glad that they are in your life and write them a brief thank you note or email.

3. Make a Gratitude “Turkey”. This is a great way to involve younger children and the entire family.  Draw and decorate a large turkey on sheet of paper, but don’t add any tail feathers. Next, cut out some colored paper in the shape of feathers.  Then each day every family member writes what they are grateful for on a feather and then attach the feather to the turkey.

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