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The holiday season is upon us with all of its hustle, bustle and stress. Instead of falling into the negative traps that can come with the holiday season, take time to pause and reflect on what you’ve been given, the people you love and cherish, and the opportunities you have in life. Giving gratitude with consciousness and pure intent can reduce stress and bring greater joy to your celebrations.

According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, gratitude may change the brain’s molecular structure, keep gray matter functioning, and improve health and happiness. When you are happy, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant. Daily gratitude creates an environment of positive emotion and a positive mental state. Having gratitude inspires clear intention, reduces self-doubt, and empowers greatness.

The following questions can help you increase gratitude during the holidays:

Who has inspired, motivated, loved, supported, and guided you in your life?

It may be family, friends, teachers, or mentors. Acknowledge them and give thanks that they are in your life. Follow up with a note or phone call of thanks to show that they matter to you.

For what skills, talents, personal characteristics, values, beliefs, and education opportunities are you grateful?

Recognize talents and gifts by reflecting on your values, beliefs, and personal characteristics you have developed. What gift keeps on giving for you? What gifts will change your life?

Where have you been that has deeply affected you emotionally, intellectually, physically or spiritually?

How have experiences outside your normal daily activities positively influenced your life? Perhaps you have traveled some during your life. The places you visited, the people you met, have broadened your life, influenced your view of the world and affected your sense of self. Reflect on how experiences have shaped who you are today.

How do you express gratitude?

Do you express gratitude daily? If not, why? It is easy to forget to say thank you because our lives are busy. Make a habit of finding a quiet place to pause and say thank you for your gifts at least twice a day. Reach out and say thank you to friends for giving you support and love. Acknowledge and be grateful for your community.

What negative situation could be positive in your life?

Why should you be grateful for negative things in your life? Inside every negative experience is a positive experience waiting to be discovered. Eliminate negative self-talk to develop stronger mental health habits. It allows you to become more accepting of everything that happens in life. Removing negativity from your life will create opportunities for growth.

Practicing daily gratitude not only produces more gratitude and abundance, but it sets the tone for a joyful holiday season.

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