Author Deepak Chopra, M.D., says practicing gratitude is a way to counteract stress and stay healthy. Taking life one day at a time can help. Here are some ways to practice gratitude:
Keep a gratitude journal. Write down what makes you grateful. We often dwell on losses or unfulfilled wishes rather than the many reasons we have to be happy. Think in general terms. Are you grateful for your family, home, health, work, or hobbies? You may have a day when a project at work turned out better than expected or your commute was quicker than normal. Perhaps you found a great deal on that sweater you wanted or discovered some unexpected dollars in your coat pocket. Take pleasure in those last few colorful leaves still hanging on a tree in mid-November. When you jot these thoughts down, they can add up and boost your mood in surprisingly effective ways.
Send someone a special card. Thank them for the happiness they bring into your life. Mention what comes to mind when you think of them. Write a note about something thoughtful they’ve done for you or others. Did they help you during a crisis or give you a gift? You may just want to say you are thinking of them and their unique quirks or turns of phrase. If you’re artistic, illustrate it with small sketches or cartoons. My friends have done this, and the recipients have treasured such notes for years.
Express gratitude to the people who serve you and the wider public. Many businesses—stores, restaurants, health clubs, and more—are operating short-staffed. Lots of employees are doing double duty or covering extra shifts. Be aware that delays are often not their fault and thank them for helping you, for being there.
Deliver home-baked cookies or another treat to anyone who has had an impact on your life. If you can afford to make a financial contribution, donate to area shelters, food banks, or similar organizations serving those in need.
This holiday season, try noticing the things in your life that inspire you to give thanks. Gratitude is a great nourisher of hope, which is an excellent attitude to hold when greeting the new year.