Cultivating and Attitude of Gratitude

This month is all about closure. We are bringing this year to an end, and while the light dwindles and the cold air settles in, we take a deep breath to prepare ourselves for the harsh months ahead. This is a time to come together with loved ones. This is a moment for light and music and celebration to fortify ourselves for harsh days ahead. And most of all, this time is an opportunity to reflect on where we have been and where we are heading. As we dive deep into the waters of self-care and community, let us also consider our mental perspectives on life. It is easy for negativity to creep into our minds, clouding our judgements and shaping our realities. It is even more likely to happen during the winter months where cold weather, indoor days and limited exposure to the sun over a prolonged period of time add up to a challenging time for most of us. Add in fewer reasons to get together and spend time with people once the holidays calm down and this time can be a real mental health challenge. One of the things that is most important during this time to keep us grounded and present in the here and the now is cultivating an attitude of gratitude. But wait, Thanksgiving was last month, you say. Well yes, and that is exactly the problem. It is so unusual for us to focus on the parts of our lives that we are grateful for that we often go an entire year without reflecting on these things. We go through our days taking so many positives for granted and feeling overwhelmed and burdened by the negatives. It’s important to make an effort to shift our perspective. Meditation is a great tool for this, taking time to quiet the mind and sit in silence with your thoughts. This will help you notice the patterns in your own thinking. Do you tend to focus on what you need to do next? Do you focus on the things that are “wrong”? What about thinking about all you have achieved in the last week? In the last year? In your lifetime? Our lives are filled with meaningful accomplishments that we quickly gloss over as we move onto the next item on the to-do list.  Instead, focus on what is happening in the here and the now. Think about the things you have done, the things you have, your strengths and your blessings. Think about the people in your life and what they contribute. Remind yourself each day of five things that you are grateful for. Instead of taking these things for granted, appreciate them because they may not always be there. Live fully in the moment, celebrating what you have and remembering to see the glass half full. Let this new perspective guide you to joyful heights.
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