The holidays are finally here! For many people, that means everything from shopping and baking to spending time with family and friends.
While the holidays are a great time for a lot of reasons, it’s sometimes easy to forget to be thankful for all of it. It seems like a natural fit to have “more gratitude” during this season, but it doesn’t always happen.
When you choose to live a life with more gratitude, you can reduce stress, feelings of depression, and you can pass that attitude on to others to continue the cycle.
So, how can you embrace gratitude during this season of giving? Let’s look at a few practical tips.
Include gratitude as a part of your holiday ritual
Holidays are highly ritualistic. We tend to do the same thing each year and prefer to spend it with the same people. And probably have preferred movies, music and sporting events that are a part of that ritual.
This year, challenge yourself to make gratitude a part of annual holiday rituals. Here is an example: When my son was 2 months old, we hosted Thanksgiving at our house (small gathering but mostly I wanted to be close to home base, so it was worth the undertaking). We decided to use a plain white tablecloth for Thanksgiving and to have everyone who attended trace their hand and then write 5 things (for each finger) that they are grateful for. We have since used this tablecloth for each Thanksgiving we have hosted and part of the fun is reading the hands for years past. It reminds us who was present, what we were thankful for at the time and also is very cool to see how our children's hands grow year over year.
Make a List (…and Check it Twice!)
One of the best ways to embrace gratitude at any time of year is to simply make a list of the things you’re grateful for. It’s the perfect place to get started.
You might initially think you don’t have much to be grateful for. But, as you get going, you’ll undoubtedly see all the wonderful gifts life has given you. By the time you’re finished with your list, you might be surprised at how many things you were able to jot down.
If you are active on social media, you may see friends post each day of November highlighting what they are thankful for. This is a great way of being mindful and intentional of your gratitude.
Think About the People You’re Grateful For
The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, so why not consider how grateful you are for the people in your life? Think about your biggest supporter in life. Is it your spouse? A best friend? Your mother?
Focus on that person this holiday season, and talk to them directly. Tell them about why you’re so grateful for them, and how they have been an influence in your life.
So often, we don’t tell the people we love how appreciative we are of what they do for us. It can really make someone’s entire season brighter, and they might be inspired to do the
Try writing it out on a thank you card and giving it to them. Again, writing out your gratitude is more intentional and thoughtful, and they have the option of keeping it and looking at it from time to time, making the "thank you" last longer.
Dig Deep Below the Surface; And Turn Complaints Into Gratitude
Some things are more evident than others for which you should be thankful. Some things will sort of stick out to you. While you should embrace those things and be grateful, it can be even more rewarding to dig beneath the surface.
Think about that initial list you made. Chance are, you started writing things that jumped out to you immediately.
Take some time to think about one or two things that aren’t so obvious. Look deep inside yourself to discover some things that you really should be grateful for. Maybe it’s something that happened this year that helped you financially. Perhaps a sick family member got better.
A useful exercise is to turn a complaint into something for which to be thankful. An example: rather than complaining about endless laundry, flip that into gratitude that your family is with you at home. Another example - dirty dishes. As the saying goes: "Be thankful for the dirty dishes, they have a story to tell. While others may go hungry, we're eating very well."
Whatever the case, these “deeper” areas of gratitude can end up meaning a lot when you give them the attention they deserve.
Why Is Gratitude So Important?
Adopting an attitude of gratitude is essential all year long. But, during the holidays, it seems more natural to put your focus on it. Having more gratitude can motivate you to be the best version of yourself. It can encourage you to do more and to give more—traits that make the holidays even brighter!
It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of the holidays. But, stopping to embrace gratitude can end up making the season even brighter for you.
If you’re struggling with ways to show more gratitude, feel free to contact me to discuss different strategies and ideas you can put in place this season and all year long, too. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!