Ten Tips to a Less-Stress Holiday Season: #8

#8 Practice Gratitude Everyday.  A recent article in the Reader’s Digest, “How the Science of Thank You can Change Your Life” by Deborah Norville, offers clinical proof of what most happy people have found to be true:  “Practicing gratitude, acknowledging the blessings in our lives and making it a point to recognize the good things can change us positively.”  Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California and a team of colleagues conducted several studies in which groups of volunteers were asked to focus on one of three things each week: hassles, things for which they were grateful, and ordinary life events.  The results: the people who focused on gratitude were just flat-out happier.  The study found that the people who were consciously grateful:

  • Felt better about their lives,
  • Were more optimistic,
  • Were more energetic,
  • Were more enthusiastic,
  • Were more determined,
  • Were more interested,
  • Were more joyful,
  • Exercised more,
  • Had fewer illnesses,
  • Got more sleep,
  • Were more likely to have helped someone else

The power of gratitude takes just a few minutes a day.  But it requires consistency and an open mind—and dedication.  It may not come easily, but it can be developed.  Here’s how: Record your thanks.  Take a moment during the day—right before bedtime is usually best—to jot down three things that happened that day for which you are grateful. See the patterns.  Over time, you’ll notice a consistency within the list of items you’re grateful for. Catch the boomerang.  Gratitude, when expressed to others, almost always comes back around. Seize the moment.  Look around you: What’s right with your world?  Practice your hobby, if you have one.  Reach out to others; share something.  All these actions increase your opportunities to feel grateful.

Says Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, “Gratitude has the potential to change everything from its ordinary state to being a gift.” What better time than the holidays to practice gratitude?  Prepare Your Heart for a Great Christmas begins, appropriately, on Thanksgiving Day with scriptures, reflections and journal pages that include room to record a gratitude list everyday.  This beautiful book was created to help all its readers find peace and joy throughout the holiday season, and the way to begin is by giving thanks!

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