This Holiday Season, Focus on Gratitude

Author

Barbara Green

Barbara J. Green, PhD, Youth Health Connection Medical Director

Gratitude is a way of seeing that alters our gaze. When we live with gratitude as a core aspect and lens, it enhances all the other spheres of our lives. It springs from an acceptance of another’s thoughtfulness and gives us recognition of all the good things in life. In honor of the upcoming holidays, it seemed like a good time to redouble our efforts to practice gratitude.

Gratitude is free, but pays huge dividends.

It creates a ripple effect through every area of our lives, and satisfies our deepest yearnings for happiness, better relationships, and our quest for inner peace, health and contentment. 

Research shows there are also remarkable health benefits to a life centered on living with gratitude.

They include sustained reductions in perceived stress and depression, lower levels of stress hormones, reduced feelings of hopelessness, increased levels of optimism, improved sleep, a stronger immune system, increased positive emotions, improved relationships with others, and feeling less lonely. 

As adults, we are powerful role models for our developing youth. By fostering our own gratitude, we can positively influence young people and help them learn to reap the benefits of gratitude.

Here are tools people of all ages can use to develop an attitude of gratitude:

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal: You can buy journals that prompt you to reflect, or just use a plain old notebook or beautiful journal.
  • Keep a Blessings Jar: Each time you are grateful for something, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. At the end of the year (or when it’s full) empty it out and reflect on all the good you experienced.
  • Write a Thank-You Note: Ideally, on a paper card, sent by mail. Slowing down and expressing your gratitude is great for your health—and the health of the person receiving your thanks!
  • Practice Silence and Meditation: It’s not just for yogis anymore. Meditation is the practice of focusing on the breath—not the thoughts racing through our minds. Learn more about how to get started with meditation.


As you gather around the holiday table, express your gratitude for those around it. It may improve your health!


This post originally appeared in the Youth Health Connection newsletter. Want to get on our list? Subscribe.