As we get closer to Thanksgiving it’s a good time to remember to practice gratitude. As we get closer to this secular holiday we naturally focus on the things we are thankful for – it’s in the name, we have to. It’s wonderful that our nation has set aside a day for which to be grateful, but it’s something we should practice everyday if we want to live a happier life.

The holidays are stressful for most people, and for many there isn’t much you can do except charge through the holidays and try to get through them as quickly as possible and without much damage. That’s an unfortunate way to live. Practicing gratitude on a regular basis, but certainly throughout the holidays will help you to find more joy and peace during these stressful times.

Practicing Gratitude as Stress Reduction

Say Thank You – Practice saying Thank You to all you interact with this season. It might be thanking someone for a compliment, gift or gesture. You may think you won’t have the opportunity to thank everyone you talk to or interact with, but if you pay attention you’ll find there is something to be thankful for in every exchange.

Count Your Blessings – Start each day by mentally noting the things for which you are grateful. It could sound something like this – I am thankful for my job that provides me the means to do the things I want; I am thankful for my children who bring me such joy; I am thankful for my spouse; I am thankful for the beautiful weather; I am thankful for food in my fridge and money in my bank account; I am thankful for all the opportunities that are coming my way. You will probably have a different list but the message is the same. Start the day being thankful and you’ll appreciate what you have than worry about what you don’t have.

Be Empathetic – When you’re driving in rush hour traffic and about to blast the horn at the person in front of you for not using their turn signal try to remind yourself that we all make mistakes. Believe that everyone is doing their best and you’ll be less likely to get upset by their transgressions. Empathy is a learned skills so practice it mindfully and you’ll discover an inner peace you didn’t know existed.