Emily Carlson

Even though I am a die-hard fan of Christmas, I do enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving each year. Despite many stressors surrounding the holidays—making meals, scheduling conflicts with family, travel, buying gifts—there is much to be said about taking a moment to focus on gratitude.

The Harvard Health Beat publication recently posted an article titled, “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.”

The article stated, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

The article “Four Ways Gratitude Helps You with Difficult Feelings” from the Greater Good Magazine, Published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, wrote, “One reason why gratitude is so powerful might be that it helps us manage difficult emotions more effectively: When we feel grateful, we might be better at coping with stressful, negative, and frustrating situations.”

It seems that focusing on things that we are grateful for is more than just a yearly conversation to be had around the Thanksgiving turkey. In fact, I recently starting to take five minutes each morning and evening to reflect on my day. I started this practice buy purchasing the “Gratitude Journal: Journal 5 minutes a day to develop gratitude, mindfulness and productivity: 90 Days of daily practice, spending five minutes to cultivate happiness.”

Despite it’s long title, the journal’s concept is quite simple. Start your day by writing what you are thankful for, what will make the day great and a positive affirmation. Then in the evening you are invited to write what was awesome about the day, what could have made it better, goals for tomorrow and your overall feelings at the end of the day.

What I love about this process is that it acknowledges the good and not-so-good in each day. Instead of dwelling on the negative, think about what could have been done to make it better. Even if it is something that is out of your control and cannot be changed, you also write down what was good about the day. This, in a way, forces you to find something positive. Trust me, some days are easier than others to find the “awesome” in the day. But I have found that despite anything that has gone wrong, I am always able to find something.

Even though I have only been writing in this journal for a short while, it seems to already be working. If I come to a point in my day that is particularly difficult, I can think of the list of things I am grateful for. If my day didn’t go according to plan, I can ponder what I could do different the next day. And most of all, it has made me stop and notice the little things throughout the day that really matter. Something a good cup of coffee, a pleasant conversation with a friend or a soft blanket to keep me warm is all I need.

As you sit back and relax, soaking in all of the good food from Thanksgiving, I hope you can take a few minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for each day and not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

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