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How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's a good time to reflect on gratitude. Gratitude means acknowledging everything that you receive and noticing simple pleasures. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you lack to what you have. Behavioral and psychological research has shown surprising life improvements that can stem from the practice of gratitude. Giving thanks makes people happier and more resilient, it strengthens relationships, it reduces stress, and it improves health.

Notice and Appreciate Each Day's Gifts

Life can be hard -- especially whn you have a chronic illness. From simple things like a broken-down car at an inconvenient time, to chronic health or family issues. And it can be hard to feel the gratitude. But the more you express gratitude, the more grateful you will be.

There's a gratitude exercise that instructs you to imagine losing some of the things that you take for granted, such as your home, your ability to see or hear, your ability to walk, or anything that currently gives you comfort. Then imagine getting each of these things back, one by one, and consider how grateful you would be for each one. In addition, you could start finding joy in the small things instead of holding out for big achievements before allowing yourself to feel gratitude and joy.

Another way to appreciate life more fully is to use gratitude to help you put things in their proper perspective. When things don't go your way, remember that every difficulty carries wihin it the seeds of an equal or greater benefit. In the face of adversity ask yourself: "What's good about this?", What can I learn from this?, or "How can I benefit from this?"

"It is not happy people who are thankful,
it is thankful people who are happy."


A Few Ways to Practice Gratitude

A common method to develop the practice of gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal, a concept that was made famous by Sarah Ban Breathnach's book Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude . This exercise basically consists of writing down every day a list of three to ten things for which you are grateful; you can do this first thing in the morning or before going to bed at night. Another exercise you can try is to write a gratitude letter to a person who has exerted a positive influence in your life but whom you have not properly thanked.



Once you become oriented toward looking for things to be grateful for, you will find that you begin to appreciate simple pleasures and things that you previously took for granted. Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an every-day gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good even in unpleasant situations. Today, start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful; in this way, you'll be on your way toward becoming a master of gratitude.

Gratitude journaling with the Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude makes it easy. Research shows that by focusing on gratitude, you can improve mental and physical health, have better relationships, be more determined to achieve your goals, reduce pain and anxiety, be more optimistic and even sleep better!

May you have a happy Thanksgiving!



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