By Tessa Greenspan (as told to Nanette Wiser)

Every morning and evening, I write in my journal what I am grateful for, and in preparation for Thanksgiving, I spent some time this weekend reading through my gratitude journal.  Here’s an excerpt:

“I am grateful that I am in perfect health. I am grateful for wonderful family. I am grateful for amazing friends. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to inspire thousands of people’s lives. I am grateful for talented advisors. I am grateful that I am living at peak potential. I am grateful for my beautiful home. I am grateful that I can buy organic foods. I am grateful that I appreciate my life. I am grateful that I can Zoom anywhere in the world to speak talk to friends.

And of course, I am grateful for the chance to share my ideas on my podcast with Dr. Deb Carlin, “Tuesdays with Tessa,” and on Thrive Global, a website that daily makes a difference.

I am grateful for the visionaries behind Chicken Soup for the Soul, gathering now a new compilation on counting your blessings.  “Gratitude is one of the keys to happiness. Even during the toughest times, if we can find our gratitude and count our blessings we feel better. Back in 2009, when we were going through a deep recession, we received thousands of stories from people who were still counting their blessings and finding their joy. Those stories became the bestselling book Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings. With today’s worries about contracting disease, joblessness, and rampant divisiveness we thought it was time to revisit this topic. We’re not sure of the title for our next book about counting your blessings, but we’re sure a new collection of stories is appropriate for 2021.”

I want to share some of the questions Chicken Soup for the Soul asked, because it’s a good mantra for each of us, both alone and with others around the Thanksgiving table. It makes for heartfelt introspection and revelation. 

Ask:  How do you count your blessings? How do you express your gratitude for your blessings?  How does doing good for others become a blessing in your own life? How do you turn lemons into lemonade? How do you spread the message of gratitude to your family and friends?

My favorite question on their list  was how do you adjust your attitude and see aspects of your life in a new way. I’ve talked about approaching each day with a positive attitude in this column and in my podcast.

I was not shocked to learn that Gratitude also supports social, physical and mental health from my esteemed colleague Dr. Michael Mantell who shared this graphic with me. Gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure and helps us sleep better. Gratitude brings joy, enhances self-esteem and makes us more resilient in the face of challenges. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. The list of benefits goes on and on.

I learned these lessons early on, thanks to my incandescent mother, who transcended losing a leg to become a positive force for good in my and others’ lives. Her motto was never say never and it’s mine as well. I’m grateful for that life lesson.

Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Showing appreciation, opening a door for some one and saying thank you wins you new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.  That random act of kindness, performed daily, is a miracle for both the doer and the receipient, the ultimate gift of gratitude for being human and living life to the fullest.

The gift of gratitude can improve your chances of success. People who approach life with a sense of gratitude know what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

So as Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, I want to leave you with these ideas. Enjoy and be well, be sure to count your blessings.

St. Louis author and motivational speaker Tessa Greenspan’s international bestseller, “From Outhouse to Penthouse – Life Lessons on Love, Laughter and Leadership,” is available on Amazon here.  This inspired personal story, struggle to overcome obstacles and life lessons is especially poignant during these difficult times.  “Failure is not an option,” is Greenspan’s motto.  Follow her on social media and her website  Email her at [email protected]