Four strategies to feel more gratitude this winter

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To me, Thanksgiving kicks off the winter season. At its worst, the season summons stressful shopping trips, and cold, dark afternoons. At its best, winter represents the warm reunion of family and friends, and cozy nights by the fire. It is so important as we kick off the season to focus on the things for which we are grateful. Practicing gratitude enhances our best times, and provides a better opportunity to face our challenging times.

Here are four strategies that you can use to remind yourself what you are thankful for this season.

Use the little moments between activities to feel thankful.

thank you driving

Opportunities to take action:

• While waiting in your car for a red light to turn green
• When your food is warming up in the microwave
• In the parking lot when walking from your car to the front door

How to take action:

1. Take a moment to think of something or someone that makes you feel grateful.

2. Focus for a full 10 seconds on it. Remind yourself how that thought makes you feel.

3. Practice steps one and two throughout the day.

Keep a Seasonal Gratitude Journal

gratitude journal
Opportunities to take action:

• Before bed each night
• In the morning, during a quiet moment before the day begins and others wake up
• During your lunch break

How to take action:

1. Reflect on the good things that have happened in the last 24 hours.

2. Recall at least three specific memories for which you are grateful.

3. Write down a quick description that triggers those memories for you. For example “My sister called me today to say hello.”

4. If you keep this journal each year, you can reflect on the previous year at the start of each winter season. Look for patterns of gratitude in your journal. This might help you predict your challenging days, and strategize about how to address them.

Practice gratefulness with family or friends


Opportunities to take action:

• During meals (dinner conversations work well)
• At a networking event when you run out of topics for small talk
• In the car, after you pick a child up from school

How to take action:

1. Change your dialogue. Instead of asking “so, how was your day?” ask “what made you grateful today?”

2. Listen intently to the response.

3. Later in the conversation, ask a follow up question to gain understanding.

Bring gratitude to your community

thankful grafitti

Opportunities to take action:

• Days when you feel the stress of the season
• When you can participate with a family member or friend
• During special holidays throughout the winter season: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years Day, MLK Day, or Valentines Day

How to take action:

1. Reflect on your own interests, strengths and talents.

2. Research community activities that align with your strengths. Check out your community’s website for information about small businesses, farmers markets, local parks, and community events. And, research potential volunteer opportunities using websites like Volunteer Match, Idealist, or MLK Day.

3. Get active in your community! Support local farmers markets, artisans, restaurants, and other small businesses; spend time at your local park, community festivals, or other events; and participate local coalitions to solve community issues, or volunteer with organizations that need support.

How do you practice gratitude? What are you grateful for?

Comment on this post and let us know!

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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  • Beth Dexter

    Thanks for the inspirational post. It’s amazing how long ten seconds feels when you’re consciously focused on it! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    • Happy Thanksgiving Beth! I very much agree. A short investment of time, 10 seconds of gratitude can really make a difference.