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Gratitude [grat-i-tood] = Noun: the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful

Posted by Beth Beth Pirnie, M.S., MCHES

“What do you say?” is a phrase I find myself muttering to my young children on a regular basis, as a way to remind them to say “thank you”. Whether they’re thanking us for a milk refill at the dinner table, thanking each other for sharing a toy, or thanking someone for a gift, I want those words to roll off their tongue naturally.....eventually without any reminders necessary.

My goal is not simply to have polite children; although that is certainly something I strive for. However, it’s more than that. My husband and I aim to instill an attitude of gratitude in our children – A true sense of being aware of all there is to be thankful for on a daily basis. Not only do I believe an attitude of gratitude will increase the joy they experience AND make them enjoyable people to be around, but research shows it will enhance their health as well! Of course, many of the studies done cannot prove cause and effect, but an association has certainly been shown between gratitude, increased happiness and improved health. An article in Harvard Health Publications revealed that gratitude has been shown to impact wellbeing in a variety of ways - by increasing optimism, reducing visits to the physician’s office, enhancing relationships and openness of communication, improving sleep, reducing depression and increasing happiness.

Research in this area is ever-growing, and continues to enhance our understanding of the ways in which our thoughts and attitude can impact our wellness overall.

Here are a few quick & easy ways to cultivate our own attitude of gratitude:

* Keep a gratitude journal - Take a moment to jot down a few things you’re grateful for at the end of each day, or even just a few times a week.
* Write a thank you note - In the age of overflowing email inboxes, people tend to appreciate an old fashioned hand-written thank you note. It brings joy to the recipient, and gives an emotional boost to the sender as well.
* Keep it simple - When thinking about what you may be thankful for, keep it simple. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve big, tangible ‘things’. Instead, think of the little things that may happen without being noticed….and make an effort to notice them – A smooth drive to work, a good song on the radio, an entertaining text conversation with a friend, a beautiful sunrise, a healthy meal, the smile of a family member…..just to name a few.

So, don’t save all of your gratitude for one big day in November. Take a moment to be thankful in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It might just make the hustle and bustle a bit less stressful.