Tips for Cultivating Gratitude Through the Holidays and New Year
After a year of pandemic and disasters, the New Year brings a chance for a fresh start. But no matter what 2021 holds, we can lead happier lives if we cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
The holidays are a good time to feel grateful for all that is beautiful and good. We have all faced stress from the pandemic and from the election, yet to remain happy and positive, it’s important to focus on things that make us happy.
Studies consistently show that thankfulness and the expression of gratitude can have profound effects on health, moods, and interpersonal relationships. By shifting your focus to what you’re grateful for, you’ll start to see all the blessings in your life more clearly.
Start by writing down what you are grateful for each day in a gratitude journal. All you need is a piece of paper and a pen. Or you might choose some of the nice journals that come with gratitude prompts already included.
Each day, record one or more things that fill you with thankfulness. Go into as much detail as you can. If you feel stumped getting started, give yourself time. As you practice gratitude more frequently, you’ll likely be able to identify things you’re grateful for with ease.
Ideas to get started:
- Write about a person in your life whom you’re thankful for.
- What skills or abilities do you have that you’re grateful for?
- Write a note to someone who you’re grateful for (bonus points if you share the note with them!).
- What positive changes in your life have happened in the last year?
- What is something you’re grateful to have learned this week or this year?
- What about the place you call home makes you feel thankful?
- What does your body allow you to do that fills you with gratitude?
- Write about something you’ve been taking for granted that you’re glad is part of your life.
Try this gratitude journaling exercise every day and see how you feel. Notice if you begin to become more aware of the good things in your life. As you begin to focus more on gratitude, you may also begin to see how even difficult experiences have made you grow stronger, more resilient and more compassionate.
Challenges and difficulties we experience provide us with the ability to grow and overcome. We sometimes appreciate those things more afterwards but if we can recognize their value in the moment, it’s to our benefit.
As we grow through the experiences life presents us, it allows us to help others to see what is possible in their lives. Gratitude leads to empathy for those who are struggling. Love, connectedness and friendship result from reaching out to help.
It is also impossible to feel gratitude and negative emotions such as bitterness or resentment at the same time. It’s as if being grateful is a light that chases away shadows of negativity. The act of choosing to be thankful also helps us to realize that we have the power to choose how we feel.
When we focus on thinking about how grateful we are for all that is good in life, we create joy, contentment and peace. We can spread those thoughts and feelings to others. What better gift could you give yourself and your loved ones for the holidays, and the New Year?