It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Right!?

It is officially December, can you believe it!? Whether you’re a Bah Humbug or a festive mad kinda person there’s no denying Christmas is upon us. That final month of the year when everyone scurries around frantically, asking how another year has gone so fast.

It really is a funny time of year. Kind of like gearing up to the big finale. There’s a mixture of stress, happiness, exhaustion, excitement and then the hope of a fresh start in the New Year all rolled into one.

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I’m not going to lie, it really is my favourite time of the year. However, it can be so easy to get get caught up in all the excitement and, lets say, more materialistic things.

Along with all the good will comes a lot of stress. Money worries, present buying, crowded shops, annual family reunions. It just comes with the territory.

It makes it easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. Now i’m not saying you have to be religious, just understand there’s more to it than just flashy gifts and Christmas parties.

I guess it’s the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a reflection. To take a step back and appreciate what you’ve already got.

Don’t get me wrong, yes I partook in a couple of Black Friday purchases and I’ll certainly be scouting out the best presents for my nearest and dearest and hey, I may have written a list to Santa myself! But I just hope they know it runs deeper.

I am grateful for so many things in life.

Yes yes, I know, everyone’s #thankful #grateful #blessed nowadays, and who knows how many of those hashtags are actually genuine, but the fact of the matter is, they’re starting a conversation and that’s a good thing! The more people that talk openly about it, the more people can benefit from it. A bit like a chain reaction.

If you are actually grateful it means that you are acknowledging all the good things in your life.

Life really is wonderful, but we just don’t think about being grateful for everyday, mundane things because they’re just that, mundane and common. Unfortunately you end up taking them for granted.

If you start to appreciate the little things in life, then the big things come.

There’s been a lot of research done on gratitude and its link to happiness. It’s been proven that people who practice gratitude feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity better and are able to build strong emotions.

So, how to do it?

I have a gratitude diary.

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This one if you’re interested.

I write in it every morning and every evening, and I’ve seen a massive change in my life. Not in a “Oh, everyday is perfect, my life is all unicorns and rainbows” kind of way, because actually nothing in my life has changed, technically everything is exactly the same. It’s just my outlook on life that has changed and I do genuinely think that it’s made me happier.

The thing you have to realise is that a lot of life you have no control over. But that’s okay, it’s good in fact! It’s what makes life fun, exciting and unpredictable. Once you accept that then you realise that it’s not the situation that matters, it’s the way you handle the situation, your mindset, and then your life begins to change.

Start small. Get a notebook, keep it by your bed and write 3 things you are grateful for in the morning and then before you go to sleep write 3 amazing things that happened that day.

They don’t have to be big events, just little things. Something that made you smile or something that made your day that little bit better.

What am I grateful for?

Well sometimes it’s just little things like being able to have a hot cup of tea in the morning or having a warm, comfy bed to sleep in. Sometimes it’s the opportunity i’ve had to get an education, or the chance to go to university and learn a skill. Other times I’m grateful for my body, it’s ability to move and exercise freely and then sometimes I’m grateful for all the people in my life, my amazing parents or my best friends.

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See, before you know it you’ve already been able to say half a dozen things you’re grateful for!

Easy peasy, right!?

My advice is to keep it simple. Don’t over complicate it and don’t wish for miracles, but do give it time. Try it for a week or two and just see how you feel.

Focus on little things throughout the day. Do a random act of kindness for a stranger. It will make your day better and their day better. Be nice to people.

After all it’s the season of goodwill.

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There are loads of books and videos on the subject

The Gratitude Diaries – a glimpse of someones experience with practicing gratitude for a year and how it changed her life.

The Law of Attraction – this is a whole other topic but so worth watching/reading. Have a google, there’s an audiobook and you can watch the film on youtube or Netflix.

and more than a couple of papers, but here are a few…

Emmons RA, et al. “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Feb. 2003): Vol. 84, No. 2, pp. 377–89.

Harvard Medical School. (2011). In Praise of Gratitude. Available: https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude. Last accessed 9th December 2017.

Sansone RA, et al. “Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation,” Psychiatry (Nov. 2010): Vol. 7, No. 11, pp. 18–22.

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