Beyond The Gratitude Journal

“It’s one thing to be grateful. It’s another to give thanks. Gratitude is what you feel. Thanksgiving is what you do.” –Tim Keller

Our minds automatically go to "Thanksgiving" this time of year. I love the above quote because it seems gratitude is something altogether different than Thanksgiving. You know that ad: "What's in your wallet?" Well, today I ask you, "What's in your heart?" If you look inside and don't see gratitude, keep reading. Gratitude is something that needs to be cultivated within you. Without it we take life and people for granted. But don't think this only affects others. Research shows that people who regularly practice gratitude feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Try some of the following gratitude suggestions and see how much better YOU and others feel:

*Print a calendar off for the month of November. Have at least one family member write something they are grateful for each day. Read them at your Thanksgiving dinner on November 23.

*Create a year of gratitude. Set a jar on your kitchen counter. When you feel grateful for someone or some thing, write it down and put it in the jar. Read them out loud each month.

*Go "criticizing, judging and complaining free" for one month.

*Give at least one genuine compliment daily.

*Turn a negative into a positive. Change "It's so COLD outside." to "Look how beautiful it is out there."

*Be mindful of self criticism. Tell yourself, "I'm doing the best I can right now."

*Stay away from "always" and "never" statements.

*Find yourself in a bad situation? Consider what you might learn from it.

*Watch your tone. If you can't pick up your phone and sound genuinely delighted to talk to someone, let it go to voice mail and call them back later.

*Smile more. Smile with your mouth and your eyes. The movement of these facial muscles releases chemicals in your brain that cause you to feel positive and happy. Now you're in a perfect position to tell someone you're grateful for them!

*And yes, there's always the gratitude journal. Include people, situations, and things. But also include feelings, tastes, smells and kindnesses shown to you by others.