With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on the things for which we’re grateful. Embracing a positive outlook can have a significant impact on your life, as gratitude, optimism, and happiness go hand in hand.

Saying thanks can be habit-forming

During this time of giving thanks, why not start a habit of recognizing and reminding yourself of the (many) great things and people in your life? Here are 16 simple ways you can practice gratitude:

  1. Spend five minutes each day writing down a few things that make you happy or appreciative.
  2. Share your “gratitude journal” with a close friend or spouse each evening.
  3. Do something nice for someone who has been kind to you, like holding a door or expressing a sincere compliment.
  4. Say thank you to at least one person a day.
  5. Reflect on a challenging time or problem you had and how you got past it (and how the experienced influenced you).
  6. Take note every day of something you appreciate about where you live (your home and/or your city).
  7. When you get frustrated by something minor (such as traffic), take a deep breath and think of something that makes you happy.
  8. Ask at least one person every day if you can help them with anything.
  9. Tell friends and loved ones what you admire about them.
  10. Write down something you’ve done that makes you proud.
  11. When you make a mistake, after you’ve had time to recover, think of or write down two things you learned from the experience.
  12. Have each person in your family go around the dinner table and share something good that happened that day. Sharing the bad is also important, especially when you reflect on how you resolved a problem or grew because of the experience.
  13. Return a favor by doing something kind. If a neighbor grabbed your mail when you were out of town, how about bringing them some homemade cookies or sending them a thank-you note?
  14. Start a friendly conversation with the barista, the grocery store clerk, or another person you encounter during your regular errands.
  15. Before you complain about something, say something constructive first. If the pizza delivery driver is late, remind yourself that it’s only pizza and it will taste delicious. If your first instinct is to whine about work to a friend, instead ask about his or her day.
  16. Buy a packet of thank-you notecards. Write short notes to family members, coworkers, and classmates when they help you with something.

Saying thanks reduces stress

Expressing gratitude on a regular basis can help you feel calmer, less stressed, more appreciative, and happier all around. The mind is powerful, after all. As Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking says, “Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.”

Practice gratitude often and without a doubt, you’ll see a wonderful transformation in yourself.

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