Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and has been for a very long time. All families look different but for me this was the one time that my whole family got together, cooked with each other, and could spend some quality time catching up with one another. As I have aged and some of our loved ones have departed the holiday has evolved for me and my family. Friendsgiving has now become something I hold in high regard as friendships are very special to me, and for my mental health. Quality friends are a treasure that I am fortunate to have in abundance, and for that I am grateful. If you don’t have community, be courageous and open and go find your tribe. Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful, and in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) it is defined as being thankful for being alive. It is one of the 9 foundational attitudes in MBSR because it is one of the most helpful practices you can have not only for reducing stress but improving both your physical and mental health.

According to the Mayo Clinic there are a myriad of benefits including improved sleep, mood, and immune system response. Additionally, a daily gratitude practice can ease chronic pain, anxiety, and decrease depressive symptoms. They go on to say that if a pill could do this everyone would be taking it. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Harvard Health had this to say in a recent article, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

One technique my client shared is that he has an alarm that goes off at 12pm daily in which he acknowledges three things he is grateful for, and they cannot be the same things he said the day before, which is lovely. The practice is intentional. You are choosing to look for the good in your life when you do this, because there are good things in your life. They can be small things. It can be as simple as having a joyful interaction with the checkout person at the grocery store. A smile to a stranger passing by, or receiving a warm welcome or hello, i.e. being friendly to a greeter at Walmart. Being grateful for the warmth of the sun, a roof over your head, or the love of a dearly beloved pet.

This holiday season you can choose happiness. Stress less, and don’t let miserable people make you miserable. Let go of grudges and resentment. Choose love over fear and unity over polarity. You don’t have to go low vibration to discuss politics or choose a side in an armed conflict unless you want to. You can be appreciative of the people, the food, the conversations, and even the process of cooking. These are actions that you can be mindful of and even get into flow states with. I am always grateful for the aroma of homemade cooking; it simply brings joy to my life. Take time to acknowledge what you are grateful for now, and may you have a wonderful holiday.