The holiday season brings family and friends together, reminding us of the things for which we are most grateful. Of course, this time of year comes with some stresses too. Playing host, holiday shopping, missing loved ones we’ve lost, and feeling a bit frazzled by the number of things going on can distract you from the happy parts of the holidays! Luckily, it just takes a little reframing of your mindset to practice gratitude more regularly. Here are seven ways you can embrace the practice of recognizing the best parts of life each and every day

  1. Say “thank you” more often. It’s a simple effort that can make a tremendous impact. Thank people—from the grocery store checker to the bank teller to your parents to the military members in your community. There is plenty to appreciate in your day-to-day life, so make sure you let people know when you value them and their contributions!
  2. Start a gratitude journal. The hustle bustle of life doesn’t leave a lot of time for thoughtful reflection. Spend a few minutes each day writing down several things that made your day or made you feel grateful. It could be anything—a delicious meal, running into a friend, an enjoyable yoga session, or a fun night out.
  3. Pay it forward. Create a ripple of kindness in your community! When someone does something nice for you, pay that thoughtfulness forward to someone else. This could be as simple as letting someone into traffic or paying someone a compliment, but don’t hold back. Help a neighbor or take a walk with a friend going through a hard time.
  4. Reflect on what you learned. Every experience offers many learning opportunities if you keep an open mind. Whether you make a mistake or go through something difficult, take the time to think about what you took away, discovered about yourself, or would do differently.
  5. Treat your friends and family well. Good friends are worth their weight in gold! No matter how busy you get, make sure you nurture your friendships and let the loved ones in your life know what they mean to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life. Call your sister, daughter, parent, or friend. Make plans to see each other. Give your relationships the attention they deserve.
  6. Remember your strengths. It’s human nature to pick ourselves apart, but stop that! Instead, give yourself a pat on the back now and then and take a moment each day to remind yourself what you’re good at, what you’re getting better at, and what you like about yourself.
  7. Find the positive. Plenty goes wrong each day, but finding ways to be optimistic and positive will encourage you not to sweat the small stuff and keep things in perspective. So, the next time you hit traffic, find a favorite radio station and take a deep breath. When household chores get you stressed, remember how lucky you are to have a place to call home.

Several studies link the frequent expression of gratitude with increased happiness and decreased stress. Put simply, gratitude is good for you! So, start thinking about how great life is and what makes you feel thankful and you may notice yourself feeling more cheerful and fortunate this holiday season!