November is the time of year we traditionally focus on the things in our life we are grateful for.  While it’s wonderful to pause annually and take stock of our blessings around the Thanksgiving holiday, being thankful throughout the year is something we all should aspire to as gratitude can have tremendous benefits on our quality of life.

 Research has revealed that having an “attitude of gratitude” results in numerous benefits including more friendships, improved physical and psychological health, less aggression, better sleep, higher self-esteem, and more resiliency in the face of obstacles. I’m sure we all can agree these are all worthy objectives! Best of all, having an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest tools to improve our happiness, and we have access to it every day at no cost!

 I’d like to share a few habits I’ve developed to foster a year-round “attitude of gratitude” in my own life.  These are activities I've created that help me remain focused on gratitude throughout the year, and to enjoy the benefits and satisfaction that result.

 The first is to journal daily on the things you’re grateful for. This can be done in a designated “gratitude journal”, a daily planner, a daily devotional you’re working in, or any other system that works for you. The important thing is the exercise of writing it down on paper which makes a stronger imprint in your mind resulting in stronger retention. Make this a quick daily exercise to make yourself aware of all the things you have in your life to be grateful for, even on the dark days.   When you focus on gratitude, everything feels better.

 The second is to be sure you're saying thank you, whether it's verbally thanking people for their service, for their kindness, or for their generosity.  It can also be a handwritten card or a small gift that you send in the mail, but always being in a place of thankfulness.

 A third habit is to always carve out time to spend with loved ones; making your loved ones feel special; making them a priority. The love language for many is time, and when you give time to the people you love and care about most, the dividends of gratitude are priceless.

 Fourth is to always look for ways to serve others.  When I'm in a funk and feeling low or discouraged, I just put my service hat on and go to work trying to be of service to someone else.  Whether it's bringing a meal or some other act of kindness. Maybe paying for the coffee for the person behind me in the drive thru line. Whatever it is, doing something to be of service and make an impact on someone else takes away any sorrow you feel for yourself.

 And then lastly, smile. Make sure you're using your beautiful smile to brighten and bless someone else's day. They say that smiling even strengthens your immune system!  So, it's good for you and it's good for the people you bless with your smile.  And if you can get in the habit of doing these things, and in always living in a place of gratitude and thankfulness and smiling, it's amazing how it can turn your day around and make you feel so good.

 Try starting each day in gratitude and develop your own habits that keep you in an “attitude of gratitude” year-round. Have a very blessed day and blessed month of November.


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