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Using Gratitude to Make Your Holidays Bright

It’s evening, and you’ve brushed your teeth and climbed into bed. Then you open your favorite news app. The next things you see are “doom and gloom” stories about supply shortages, travel dangers, or the threat of new virus outbreaks. Suddenly, the holidays feel bleak.

It’s in these moments that a grateful outlook can change your day for the better. And with practice, you can help everyone you encounter to do the same.

Spread Gratitude, Not Negativity

Our mindset has the potential to sway the moods of others. Remember this, and look for opportunities in this unique holiday season to shine your Light using gratitude. Here are three areas likely to need an extra infusion of gratitude this year:

Economic Hardship

The pandemic hasn’t been kind to many families—perhaps even yours. Whether you’re doing well or struggling financially, few things have the power to take your mind off your problems like helping others. Look for service opportunities, especially those you can perform with friends. It’s incredible how quickly we realize what we have when we serve communities that have less.

Product Shortages

Supply chains around the world are feeling the lingering impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. That “it” gift item may be harder than ever to find this year as shelves sit empty. Consider basing your gifting strategy around experiences, service, handicrafts, or things that extend the usefulness of something your family already owns. Not only will it make shopping less stressful, but it will also build gratitude for the people and possessions in your life.

Holiday Travel

COVID-19 continues to impact travel in obvious and subtle ways. Rules for containing the virus vary by location, which may cause delays or extra work as you travel to see friends and family.

Before you travel, reset your expectations and be strategic. Bring an upbeat book to read, download an inspiring podcast, and pack extra snacks. Look for opportunities to share a snack and a conversation with a fellow traveler who looks like they need it.

When the new year arrives, you may discover that you have a new connection for which to be thankful.

Action-items to Build an Appreciative Mindset

  • Call someone and tell them what you appreciate or admire about them.

  • Look for the beauty all around you. Snap a photo and start a “gratitude album” on your phone.

  • Avoid negative media or media that doesn’t let you control the flow of content.

  • Avoid gossip, and practice some techniques for shutting it down.

  • Take time to give service workers a genuine smile and thanks as you run through your holiday errands.

  • Volunteer for a recurring shift at your animal shelter, food bank, homeless shelter, elementary school, library, etc.

  • If you can’t volunteer, ask about making volunteer thank-you packages at home.

  • Practice speaking your gratitude to anyone that will listen. These days, cashiers definitely want to hear you praise them for having your favorite brand of juice in stock. They’ve heard little but the opposite for months.

  • If you find yourself on social media, see how many constructive and appreciative comments you can make.

  • Hug more.

  • Write those thank-you notes.

Need More Reasons to Practice Gratitude? We have three:

Gratitude is Contagious

As some diseases are passed from person to person, so are many emotions. Gratitude and its resulting happiness are waiting to shine through you and into your social circles. You likely already know the power of a well-timed thank you. Challenge yourself to commit tiny acts of kindness. As you build your muscles of appreciation for others, you’ll find our relationships with them—and yourself—strengthened as well.

Gratitude Builds New Relationships

Owning a grateful mindset attracts people to be a part of our lives. An Australian study showed that writing thank-you notes helps others believe you’re more worthy of building a high-quality relationship. Imagine the good that can come from others feeling that way about us.

Gratitude is Good for Business

Gratitude is as powerful in established relationships as it is with strangers. Shows of gratitude are so crucial that a recent study of acute care nurses showed profound improvements in physical and mental well-being among employees. The difference? An employee appreciation program.

More resources:

If you or someone you know needs more help this season, more resources are available: National Mental Health Alliance Private resources like are available right on your phone. If you only need someone to listen, you can communicate anonymously for free through an app like HearMe.

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