“When gratitude becomes an essential foundation in our lives, miracles start to appear everywhere.”
– Emmanuel Dagher

The seasons are changing and the holidays are just around the corner. With the changes in weather, we hope to begin to feel a change in ourselves and our outlook on what’s to come in the last few months of the year. November is National Gratitude Month, which leads us to pose the question to ourselves…what are you thankful for this month? This season? Or even this year? And what does being grateful truly look and feel like?

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, with a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. It may seem simple to understand, but the act of gratitude and showing it daily can often be overlooked.

It may feel like the 2022 year has come and gone. Whether it’s getting wrapped up in the routine of school, the rush of the fourth quarter at work, or the pending holiday planning looming in the near future, we can often lose focus on the simple things in life and the things that make us most happy. It’s common practice these days to put your head down and bear through it, but it is important not only for ourselves, but for our health and peace of mind, to step back from the chaotic stressors in our life and focus on the positives.

This can begin to feel like another task added to your plate, or another thing you have failed to do for yourself. We are all only human and can only accommodate so many things at once. Instead of asking yourself, “why didn’t I take the time to do these things sooner?”, begin to say to yourself “now is a great time to start”. A key takeaway is to not view this as something you ‘have’ to do, but rather something you ‘get’ to do.

Some mindful ways to show and feel gratitude in your everyday life can include:

  • Sending a message to a loved one, family, or friend telling them why you are thankful for them being in your life.
  • Keeping in mind kind gestures and words go a long way – a simple “thank you” to those you interact with makes a difference!
  • Showing an act of kindness to a stranger. Did you hold the door for someone running late? Did you buy someone’s coffee when they couldn’t find their card?
  • Putting your phone away when you sit down to dinner with friends or family
  • Making a list of things throughout your day that brought you peace and reflecting on it before going to bed.
  • Starting a gratitude journal

Perhaps the person you sent a message to saying you are grateful for them was having a hard day. Your message helped to not only make them feel appreciated, but also lead them to start showing the same appreciation towards others. When we put away the distractions in our lives, we let the other people with us know that they matter to us and we are happy to be in their presence.

Another way to engage fully in acts of gratitude is to join in the Giving Tuesday movement. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 as a way for people to give in whatever way they can. Tuesday November 29th is the official day in 2022 dedicated to celebrating acts of services, building up and donating towards non-profits, and coming together as a community to service any needs that need to be met. No matter how small or large your donation or service is, anything is appreciated during this time. For more information, and to see how Arbor Family Counseling is getting involved, check out https://shareomaha.org/nonprofit/arbor-family-counseling

Gratitude not only affects those around us, but also has a large affect on our own mental and physical health. Research has shown that those who are actively seeking the positive aspects of life are generally happier and less depressed all around. With this new mindset and improved mood, our sleep can improve, leading to better overall physical health. In addition, lowered stress levels can directly impact physical health issues like high blood pressure.

The countdown to the holidays doesn’t fill everyone with a sense of joy. If you are struggling during this time of year, regardless of what that looks like, our counselors and staff at Arbor are available to help. Whether the holidays bring up feelings of sadness or depression, anxiety on how you are going to balance the workload, or the stress of getting everything done in time, there are licensed counselors available to talk you through it all.

Living a life of gratitude allows a person time to breathe, relax, and remember what truly matters in life. When we start and end the day with gratitude, we begin to let go of what is holding us back from feeling like our true selves.  We began by asking what are you thankful for this month? This season? Or even this year? After taking the time to truly be grateful for what we have and where we are in this life, those questions will become easier to answer.