Posted by: Dennis Hinkamp on Nov 12, 2009

Cultivating Gratitude

 

ASK A SPECIALIST: DO YOU HAVE TIPS FOR CULTIVATING GRATITUDE?
 
Answer by: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Iron County
 
         There are many benefits to having a good attitude and being grateful. One study found that grateful people are more likely to help others, exercise and complete their personal goals. They also tend to be more determined, optimistic, more alert and have energy and enthusiasm. Consider these tips for cultivating gratitude.
 
         • Write thanks. Keep a journal or notebook where you can record those things you are grateful for every day. Even after a stressful day, it can be soothing to review the day in your mind and point out on paper the bright spots or highlights. Not only will you feel more at ease after a long day, but it will likely give you an improved ability to keep things in perspective.
 
         • Think thanks.Maybe writing in a journal isn’t a motivation for you. If not, spend a few minutes sitting in a quiet place and gazing out the window. Whether you find yourself focusing on your yard or beyond, find the beauty in what you see and appreciate those things around you. No moment should be taken for granted, and pleasure and happiness could be found in being grateful for the simplest joy or the most challenging time of your life.
 
          • Say thanks. If you’ve ever been accused of not expressing appreciation, it’s not too late to change. Even if you have to make a note and stick it in several places to remind you to do it, people in your life need to know you appreciate them and you notice their efforts. 
         • Show thanks. Even though you may still have car payments, a mortgage, the stress of the holidays ahead and less in your 401K today than you did last month, don’t forget those less fortunate than you. Find ways to donate time, money or service to ease the burdens of those who have less than you. During the holidays, there are ample opportunities to help those in need. Whether you take food to a local food pantry, offer to put up Christmas lights for a neighbor who is disabled or participate in sponsoring a family through a local charitable organization, reach out and do something. Helping others is a great way to show you are grateful for what you have and that you want to share it.
 
         Until it becomes a habit, being grateful must be a conscious decision. Remember that if you live a positive, grateful, successful life, you will attract other positive, grateful and successful people. Making your life full of gratitude can only bring happiness.
 
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Direct column topics to: Julene Reese, Utah State University Extension Writer, Logan, Utah, 84322-4900; 435-797-0810; julener@ext.usu.edu

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