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GRATITUDE: Appreciating the Little Things

Thanksgiving in the middle of a pandemic reminds us how easy it is to take things for granted. Previous years may have included parties, travel and large family gatherings. One can’t argue that this year will look different than we imagined and because of this, we can’t help but focus on the negative – our brains have a natural negativity bias. It’s normal to ruminate about the past and worry over the future.

Studies show that negative things affect us more than positive or neutral things. It’s no surprise that at this time of the year, it can be hard to feel happy. Throw in a pandemic and it can be even more challenging to stay positive. We know that eating healthy, exercising and doing good things for others can help relieve stress. But there’s another very simple way to improve your overall well-being and that’s by being grateful.

It’s all about gratitude.
When you show gratitude – a willingness to show appreciation – your brain releases chemicals that are responsible for making you feel happy. Being grateful can help increase empathy, self-esteem, and your overall well-being.

That means you can immediately start to shift your feelings by intentionally looking for the good. Believe it or not, it’s easier than you think. One of the best ways to cultivate gratitude is to notice the good things when they are happening. Consider this – could you be multitasking and missing the moment? Did you notice the five year-old dressed up as a superhero walking around the grocery store? How about the cashier’s smile or that first sip of your morning coffee? Sometimes the day-to-day routine can make you numb to the good stuff that’s already out there.

Start a gratitude journal.
Keeping a gratitude journal is a good example of showing your gratitude. It doesn’t have to be complicated – in fact, the simpler the better. The idea is to make it part of your routine. Every night look over your day and write down three things in a notebook that you are grateful for. Ask your children to help as they have a delightful way of looking at the world. Not only will you show what expressing gratitude looks like, you’ll create a lovely memory during a difficult time. If you practice this enough, your brain will start to search for the good things throughout the day in anticipation of your evening ritual. Soon you will have a list of things to choose from as well as an overall better mood.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks and remember that cultivating a gratitude practice is one of the best ways to keep you and your family safe this holiday season. CPCMG wishes you an enjoyable and safe celebration, and we’re thankful for being a part of your family’s life!