Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness; an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has or had. Gratitude can look different for each of us. Regardless of how we respectively define it, I hope we all believe that being grateful makes us better people.

The benefits of practicing gratitude are many. Studies have shown, individuals who take time to reflect upon the things they’re thankful for are happier, calmer, and more compassionate. They sleep better, are kinder, and even healthier. I believe that those who practice gratitude have a better outlook on life, seem to have an optimistic perspective and are more joyful. I also find it difficult to be grateful and have anger in my heart at the same time.

I personally have a great deal to be grateful for – a faith that provides me guidance and peace, a compassionate and giving wife, a beautiful family, wonderful friends, a job I enjoy that allows me to help others and so much more. Recently, I was truly blessed and grateful to have my mother and oldest son survive horrific falls that could have easily taken both of their lives. Both are working hard and we expect substantial recoveries. While my wife Marci and I were attending to Nicholas’ care in Chicago, he shared his gratitude journal with us. Virtually every day he journals a few simple things that he is grateful for. We talked with him about it and he feels practicing gratitude has brought about a wonderfully positive perspective for him. I could see the impact of those benefits throughout his recovery.

I believe that actively practicing gratitude will invite joy into our lives. Taking on an “attitude of gratitude” recognizes the fundamental truth that everything we receive is a gift. This way of approaching each day transforms the way we see the entire world, allowing us to recognize we have received; and then have something to give. Without gratitude, we become focused on what we lack and become anxious takers, believing there is not enough for all of us. Without gratitude, the things we receive become expected or due to us which robs us of the joy of giving.

How can each of us make gratitude a part of our lives? It seems to me that it requires tangible consistent practice. It could be a gratitude journal, a dinner ritual where each member of the family shares something s/he is grateful for or saying out loud what we are grateful for at a certain time every day. Change it up sometimes to keep it vibrant and meaningful. A gratitude practice can be whatever works for you, but remember, expressing thankfulness with others can be contagious.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite Gratitude Quotes:

Gratitude turns what we have into enough – Anonymous

There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy – Ralph H. Blum

What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude – Brene Brown

Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile and a grateful heart – Zig Ziglar

What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

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