How to Excercise Gratitude During the Hustle and Bustle of the Holidays

10he beginning of the busy holiday shopping season is upon us. As the season gets rolling, and as we get busier and busier working on our holiday planning, our decorations, our Christmas shopping and gift wrapping, it’s easy for things to become overwhelming, frustrating, and downright miserable. We can get to the point where feel so much is demanded of us that we forget the simple, yet genuine joy that comes from putting the brakes on, pulling over to proverbial side of the road, take some deep breathes and start thinking and saying out loud things that we are grateful for.

Exercising Gratitude

This can be a challenging exercise, in the beginning. You may have to begin with very simple things, such as “I’m grateful that I have gas in my car,” or, “I’m grateful that my home is warm when it’s cold outside.” Pretty soon, you start becoming more thoughtful of what that actually means, and your mind can start to open up to other things you are genuinely grateful for. And saying it outloud, and especially in sharing what your grateful for with another person, can bring warmth, love, and compassion into your heart. It becomes a gift to yourself, and to those you share it with.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward
When was the last time, for example, that you told a friend, or even your spouse how grateful you are to have them in your life, and how much they mean to you. Finding fault with each other comes quick and easy. It’s okay if it takes some time and thought to find what to express gratitude about. It’s time well worth investing.
“Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.” –Tom Hopkins

Gratitude is like a muscle

Gratitude is like a muscle that we need to work out to keep in shape, to keep strong, and to keep a positive and grateful perspective. So, like going to the gym after an extended absence, don’t worry if it takes some warming up to and practice. Expressing gratitude, and cultivating an attitude of gratitude, takes effort and time. Especially if there is something in life we are having a particularly difficult time dealing with or being happy about. For example, if you are working at a job that you hate, or for a boss you despise. It’s difficult to feel grateful for that situation. What we focus on, is what we see. What we see is what shapes our perspective. And what we choose to think about things shapes how we feel, our happiness, and how far we go in different areas of life. It directly impacts whether we’re happy, sad, full of joy, or miserable.
“It is your attitude, more than your aptitude, that will determine your altitude.” –Zig Ziglar
When the hustle and bustle of the season has you feeling overwhelmed and drained, why not stop and exercise your gratitude muscles, remember the reason for the season, and the things in life you have to be grateful for. And if you’re having a hard time thinking of things to be grateful for, here are some gratitude starters to help get you going.
“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A little help; Gratitude, fill in the blank

Fill in the bank, but then take it a step further and answer the question, “why?” you’re grateful for that. I am grateful for access to knowledge, learning, and education. This has allowed me to ____________ in my life. I am grateful for the adventures I have had in my life, (whether near or far.) One of my favorite adventures was ____________. I am grateful for that because ____________. I am grateful that I have the talent to ____________. This talent has helped me to ____________. I am grateful for this because I am grateful for (Name of friend or family member) for being there for me when I was having a hard and difficult time with ___________. I remember when (Name of friend/neighbor/family member) helped me with ___________. I am grateful for that help, because _____________. I am so grateful for (Name of friend/neighbor/family member) for loving me for who I am, not judging me, and helping me see my true value. I am grateful for the reason for the season, because _________. What else are you grateful for? Let us know in the comments below! One of my favorite ways to express my gratitude, and to help inspire others to remember to be grateful for the reason for the season, is with my outdoor nativity scene. I love seeing peoples face light up when they first see our nativity scene. And then to watch them pause, as they continue to look on, and become contemplative as they think of what the reason for the season means to them.