The Best Ways to Practice Gratitude This Holiday Season
With the holidays rapidly approaching, it’s time to focus on family and friends. It’s also the season to celebrate the many good things that have taken place in your life over the past year. Even if you’ve experienced disappointments or setbacks, there are still plenty of things to be grateful for in life. Concentrating on the positive can have a huge impact on your outlook and success.
The Power of Gratitude
Did you know that practicing gratitude actually makes your brain work better? It causes significant changes to occur in your brain that can enhance function and make you feel better.
Research suggests that focusing on gratitude helps to calm the deep limbic areas and enhance the other judgment centers of your brain. People who express gratitude on a regular basis are healthier, more optimistic, make better progress toward their goals, have a greater sense of well-being, and are more helpful to others.
Living in a state of gratitude is more than just thanking someone for opening the door for you – although that’s a good thing to do. It’s about having an attitude of gratitude regardless of the circumstances. Practicing these 10 habits can help you remain grateful during the holidays and throughout the year:
10 Ways to Practice Gratitude During the Holidays
1. Compliment Others
Find something nice to say to family, friends, coworkers or even a stranger in an elevator or at the grocery store. Complimenting someone on their outfit, hair or backpack pin will make them feel better about themselves. Kind words can create a positive feedback loop; the person giving the compliment often ends up feeling just as uplifted as the receiver of the compliment. Getting in the habit of complimenting others is a great way to nurture existing friendships while cultivating new ones.
2. Be Mindful
In our “take care of number one” society, our focus tends to be on ourselves rather than on others. Try to be more mindful of those around you. If they have a need, try to meet it. Force yourself to stay attentive in every conversation. Be an active listener and make eye contact with the person talking to you. Chances are, they’ll appreciate you taking the time to really listen to them, which in turn will make you grateful for being able to participate in a meaningful conversation.
3. Pitch In
Are you the type person who jumps up after a meal and helps clear everyone’s plate off the table? Taking the initiative in running errands or tackling the hard jobs can lighten someone else’s load, which will make them thankful for the support. Pitching in can also make you feel good about yourself, so actively look for ways that you can help other people with their chores or challenges…without burning yourself out, of course.
4. Send Notes
Many people are good at sending birthday or holiday cards. Some are even good at giving thank you cards to express gratitude for a favor, gift or kind word. Writing notes to recognize the little things is a great way to show appreciation to those who matter most in your life. Make sure to handwrite your note to give it that personal touch.
5. Pay It Forward
Has a stranger ever done something nice for you? Did those good feelings motivate you to help someone else? When you’re in line at a restaurant or coffee shop, purchase a meal or beverage for the next person in line. This act of generosity will create gratitude in that person and hopefully inspire them to pay it forward to someone else. Giving to someone who can’t repay you can give you a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.
6. Say Sorry
Perhaps there’s something in our DNA that makes us want to be right all the time, but many people have a hard time saying sorry. Even if you feel like you’ve been wronged, say you’re sorry to the other person. Offering an apology can help build a bridge in a relationship, and the other person might be grateful that you took the initiative in trying to resolve the disagreement. Since compromise is part of life, it’s better to apologize than hold a grudge.
If you find a few spare hours in your schedule, consider volunteering at an animal shelter, food bank or mission. Serving others can be personally gratifying and can help alleviate stress while increasing health and happiness. Also, assisting others can make you feel more grateful for the good things in your life and give you a different perspective on the struggles that many people face each day.
8. Count Your Blessings
One of the best ways to stay in a grateful state of mind is to take a few moments to write down the positive things that you’ve experienced that day. Keeping a “Blessings Journal” can be an enjoyable hobby as well as a great way to unwind after a stressful day. If you need regular reminders to write in your journal, there are many gratitude apps you can download on your phone. Perhaps the best part of journaling comes when you look back at earlier entries and see the many blessings you’ve enjoyed in your life. Jot down three things that you’re grateful for every day. Then experience the bliss that gratitude can bring.
9. Be Generous
Although many people give to charities during the holidays, it’s important to remain generous year-round. Giving to others in need can produce feelings of fulfillment and joy. In addition to donating money, be generous with your time. Spending time with the sick or elderly can fill them with gratitude and a sense of hope. A small investment of your time can make a big difference in someone else’s life.
10. Remember the Basics
In the busyness of life, it’s easy to slack on pleasantries. Always remember to say thank you to someone who has served or helped you. Many people feel like they work a thankless job, so hearing someone thank them can make their day. Also, remember to smile. Smiles can be contagious, so do your part in spreading the happiness wherever you go.
Taking these simple steps can help you feel the power of gratitude during the holidays, and every day.
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