Focusing on gratefulness keeps us centered and helps ward off negativity.
Here are five little things we can do each day to nourish our sense of gratitude:
1. Choose your friends wisely.
If you want to be more grateful, spend time with grateful people. Spend time with positive people to be more positive; joyful people to be more joyful.
If you strive to be spiritually strong, supportive, empowering, intelligent, energetic, and positive, seek those characteristics in others.
Help your friends develop more positive traits by living those positive traits yourself. Know what kind of friends will help you nurture your soul, and set out to find some.
2. Help your friends cultivate gratitude.
Before you say anything about a friend's situation, remember that everyone's situation is unique. I've seen it happen to myself and to my friends. They'll be perfectly happy until someone tells them they're being mistreated. Suddenly, they're upset.
Don't let your friends wield such power, and work to avoid wielding such power yourself.
Day by day, hour by hour, make a goal to avoid complaining about your life. Make a pact with your friends to cut the complaints from your conversations.
3. Give the gift of gratitude to your children.
Help your children to be satisfied and grateful for simple, everyday things by giving thanks aloud. Keep a Gratitude Journal in which, each day, you record 5 or 10 things for which you are grateful, and ask your children for contributions. Give your children a journal of their own or keep a family Gratitude Journal.
4. Say “Thank You. "
Whom in your life do you appreciate? Let them know, whether it's your mom, your kids, your friends, your husband, your child's daycare provider or the helpful woman behind the cosmetics counter.
Write thank you notes regularly - not just after a gift exchange - and be mindful of all the ways you show your appreciation by the things you do in return.
Tell your kids how thankful you are for them. Jot a note to each of your children in which you tell them how much you love them, why you're thankful for them, and all the ways they have enriched your life. This can be something you give them now or after they have grown.
5. Be mindful of the little things.
Today, strive to be aware of all the aspects of your personal, professional, and family life for which you are thankful.
Take a few minutes today to appreciate nature. Go for a walk and notice only those things that are beautiful. Whether you focus on the stars above, a distant mountain range, or the cottonwood tree in your backyard, try to notice the details. Give thanks for the beauty that surrounds us.
Regardless of whether you record these items, spend some time each day to focus on the little things in your life that make each day special. Perhaps it's your child's toothless grin. A warm home. Delicious food enjoyed with family.
Together, let's work on focusing on what we have - not on what we don't have - and all the ways we can help one another have more gratitude for the gift of life.
Susie Cortright is the founder of Momscape.com, an online magazine devoted to celebrating life with children. Learn more about her scrapbooking club or about starting your own scrapbooking business on Susie's team.