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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

by Nancy Hightower - November 18, 2021

Recently, Dr. Brittney Schrick, Extension Family Life Specialist, made a blog post on her Family Life Fridays Blog about gratitude, what it looks like, how we can benefit from it, and how to intentionally practice gratitude in our daily lives. To see her blog post, visit https://bit.ly/30Hujor.

This is the season of gratitude, the season of giving thanks. Here are some ways to do that this season to get into the holiday spirit, remember how much there is in our daily lives to find joy and comfort in, and to help us stay positive when we start feeling that holiday stress.

Five ways to practice gratitude:

  1. Gratitude Journal: Having a gratitude journal can help you analyze the things in your life that you are grateful for. Pick something that has brought you joy, a feeling of warmth or happiness, or peace recently. Write it down. Try to remember as much as you can and describe the moment in as much detail as possible. Keeping a daily gratitude journal of the things you are experiencing daily that bring value and happiness to your life can help you understand the things that you love and are important to you and can help you start seeing all the little positive things in life easier to notice. You can find Gratitude Journal Prompts at the bottom of Dr. Schrick’s blog post!
  2. Gratitude Jar: Every time you think of something positive in life, something that brings you happiness, whether it be a physical object, a kind gesture from someone, or something you did that you enjoyed doing, or anything else that brings a smile to your face, write it down on a small piece of paper, fold it up, and place it in a jar. When you start to feel down and need a pick-me-up, look at all the little papers in your jar. Even take some out and read them to remind yourself of how many great things there are in your life.
  3. Gratitude Tree: This is especially useful for children and is often done in classrooms. Draw a tree with several branches and write something you are thankful for on each branch or ask your child what they are thankful for and write that down for them. Hang your tree somewhere you will see it frequently, so you are reminded of those things regularly. Tip: You can trace your child’s hand and turn this into a Gratitude Turkey for a fun and wholesome Thanksgiving activity.
  4. Talk to others: Make it a point to discuss what you are grateful for with your friends and family and give them the chance to discuss what they are grateful for with you as well. Sharing in this way helps us connect to others, and that is something to be grateful for in itself!
  5. Create moments to be thankful for: Reflect on the things you are grateful for. A gratitude journal can help you pinpoint these things. What moments and activities make you happy? What are things you want more opportunity to take part in? Who do you like spending time with? Use this information to create new opportunities to enjoy life. Invite those you like to spend time with to the activities you enjoy doing. Help a friend out when they need it and be grateful for the bonding that takes place. Ask your sister to volunteer with you. Take dinner to someone who has been busy lately and be thankful for the smile you put on their face and give them the opportunity to be thankful for the supportive friend they have in you.

There is gratitude to be felt in every day, even when life gets tough or when the holidays get stressful. Make it a point to be grateful this season. Make it a point to spread that feeling to others. That’s what most try to celebrate this time of year, but it could benefit everyone to celebrate gratitude every day.

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