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AlisonBrill Posted by Alison T. Brill, MPH, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

We don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to be thankful and appreciative of the good things in our lives. It fact, it turns out that the more often we express gratitude, the greater the positive affects. The act of being grateful, even just a little bit, can make us feel better, improve our mood, and change our outlook on life, or at least our outlook on a particular situation. When you take stock of the good things in your life – the people, animals, situations, or any number of other things - the positive emotions that come from gratitude can bring a sense of calm in distressing times.

Counting your blessings can actually make you feel better. Adults who maintain an “attitude of gratitude” tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t. People who feel grateful are healthier, happier, and have more social connections than those who do not. Those who express appreciation are also less likely to be depressed, envious and have greater satisfaction with life. The same is true for kids and young adults, too.

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Being grateful is different from being happy – it’s an attitude, and one that we can choose to adopt. The act of appreciation forces us to get out of our own heads and connect to something larger, helping us to see the bigger picture. Think of it this way. Complaining brings about negativity, but appreciation creates positive energy. The more people who express appreciation, the more positive energy there is in the world! By focusing on the things we do have, rather than the things we don’t or wished we had, we allow for positivity and abundance to enter our lives. Making space for appreciation is also a good way to cope in difficult times. So when you’re feeling down, or find that you’re being hard on yourself, try writing down what you’re grateful for, and see how you feel afterwards.

Some simple ways to express your gratitude:

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal and regularly record one thing that you’re grateful for.
  • For online social media users: Post what you’re grateful for or something good that happened on your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. page. There’s enough negativity on these sites already!
  • For Smartphone users: Download this neat Gratitude Phone App.
  • Tell people you appreciate them, either in person, with a call, email, text, or an old fashioned, hand written note. Because it’s so rare these days, people love snail mail, and you’ll make them feel good, too!

 

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