Being thankful isn’t just for the holidays

Being thankful isn’t just for the holidays.

The holidays are usually a time when we gather with family and friends and take time to reflect on what we have to be grateful for in our lives. While that’s a great way to make the holidays even more meaningful, this year consider trying something new. Try to find ways to make gratitude and thankfulness part of each day all year long. Not only does it keep you centered and help you have a more positive outlook on life, it can also have important benefits for your health and psychological well-being. Researchers have found links between gratitude and a decreased likelihood of depression, an increase in empathy for others, a better night’s sleep, stronger self-esteem, greater resilience in tough times and fewer health issues.

Follow these four tips to make gratitude a bigger, more regular part of your life in 2015.

  • Write it all down. It’s easy to get swept up in the stress and busyness of everyday life, and that can make us lose sight of the good things we’ve got going on. Get a journal or notebook and spend a few minutes every day writing down the positive things in your life, both big and small. It could be making a new friend or spotting the first daffodil of spring. When you’re feeling down or stressed, look back at your list. By the end of the year, you’ll have hundreds of things you’re thankful for to refresh your spirit.
  • Get the whole family involved. Nothing increases positive energy like more good vibes. Start a new family routine and have everyone share one good or funny thing that happened during their day at dinner or as part of your bedtime routine with the kids. You’ll end your day on a happier note, which can lead to more restful sleep and a better mood in the morning.
  • Imagine a bright tomorrow. Most of us worry about what tomorrow may hold. Will the kids get sick? Is my job secure? Are we saving enough for retirement and college? Experts suggest flipping those future worries and instead imagining all the great things yet to come. Focus on the positive things you hope your future will hold, like a relaxing vacation with family, a raise for a job well done or reunion with loved ones you haven’t seen for a while.
  • Find the goodness in the difficult experiences. It’s pretty easy to be grateful for good experiences, but, with a good bit of practice, we can also find the positive within the negative. If a relationship ends, for example, try to be thankful for a partner who understood that it wasn’t working and took the admittedly painful step of bringing the relationship to an end. Remember, too, that this opens the door for a healthy relationship that’s good for both partners. This is a tough step to take, but when you succeed in finding something to be thankful for in life’s difficult experiences, you’ll develop a more peaceful mind and heart.

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