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As we move into the holiday season, a time that is traditionally about being grateful for the good things in life, I wanted to dig a little deeper into gratitude. Gratitude is a quality of being thankful– a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness to others. Science has shown in many studies that practicing gratitude can increase happiness, decrease stress, and improve your immune system. Here is how you can use gratitude in your life to improve your outlook and happiness, anytime of year!

A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO GRATITUDE (so you can see and think differently)
When we feel stuck or down, it’s hard to see positive, but this is a good time to be grateful. Not grateful for what has us stuck, but appreciating what doesn’t. Gratitude helps us see our situation in a way that can lessen panic and open up our thinking to new solutions.

But, people aren’t hardwired to be grateful. And, like any skill worth having, gratitude requires practice. There are three stages:
1. Recognizing what we’re grateful for
2. Acknowledging it and,
3. Appreciating it

The benefits of practicing gratitude can be life altering: It puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and stay stuck.
Gratitude helps us realize what we have. The awareness of what we’re grateful for can lessen our tendency to want more all the time. Gratitude strengthens relationships, improves health, reduces stress, and, in general, makes us happier.

9 ways to cultivate gratitude:

1: Notice your day-to-day world from a point of gratitude and be amazed at all the goodness we take for granted.

2: Keep a gratitude journal. All it requires is noting one or more things you are grateful for on a daily basis. No fancy notebook, no computer program required.

3: If you identify something or someone with a negative trait (the cold conference room), switch it in your mind to a positive trait (the conference room with a great view).

4: Gratitude requires humility, which the dictionary defines as being “modest and respectful.” Explore where it fits in your life.

5: Give at least one compliment daily, whether directly to a person or by sharing your appreciation of something (“I love how quiet it is in the morning, don’t you?”).

6: When you find yourself in a bad situation ask: What can I learn? When I look back on this, without emotion, what will I be grateful for?

7: Vow to not complain, criticize, or gossip for a week. If you slip, rally your willpower and keep going. Notice how much energy you were spending on negative thoughts.

8: Sound genuinely happy to hear from the people who call you on the phone. Whether they respond with surprise or delight, they’ll feel valued.

9: Join a cause that’s important to you. Donate money, time, or talent. By getting involved, you’ll better appreciate the organization — and it will appreciate you more, too.

Adapted from: