I have a challenge for any of you who have been feeling stressed out, discouraged, or maybe just off track in life lately.

A Practice of Gratitude

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays and instead of just taking one day out of the year to be grateful, I like to make Thanksgiving into an entire season and I like to bring in a practice of gratitude. Pausing to be grateful for the things that you already have is a powerful, natural mood lifter. Go ahead, test me out. Close your eyes, think of something you already have that you’re really grateful for, then think of a second thing, now list a third thing. Notice those happy feelings starting to percolate in your body. Here’s the other cool thing about gratitude – you cannot hold two opposing emotions at the same time. Often times when we’re feeling really stressed out, anxious, or depressed we are focused on the things that are not going well. What gratitude does is it refocuses us and allows us to identify and name the things that we already have or the things that are already going well. Since we can’t hold these two polar opposites simultaneously, we have to kind of put down our stress and discouragement for a minute to hold the gratitude. That’s a pretty cool thing as well.

Putting It All into Perspective

Gratitude also has a wonderful way of putting things back into perspective for us. Let’s be honest, we all lose track of what really matters most in life on some occasions. When we recognize and acknowledge our own privileges through the practice of gratitude, I kind of think it makes us better human beings. For example, right now I’m aware that there are thousands and thousands of people in Puerto Rico without homes this holiday season. While I care deeply about that, if I pause and step into the gratitude of whoa, I have a safe and sound home to spend the holidays in this year and not everybody has that, it helps me feel happier and more grateful and kind of also puts things back into perspective in my life.

So, I double dare you to try this every single day. Take 5 minutes out of your day and rattle off at least 10 things that you already have that you are grateful for. Then notice what it does to your stress level and your mood.

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