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Off The Shelf: The value of an attitude of gratitude

Deb Diller, Librarian

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If you’re like most of us you spent Thanksgiving visiting family, eating too much, and giving thanks. But one week later and we’re caught up in the rush towards the end of the semester, the holiday madness and the start of winter.

Turns out research shows we’d be better off if we practiced the art of giving thanks year round instead of just during Thanksgiving. Practicing gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life on a regular basis. That’s for both the big and small things alike.

Practicing gratitude can make us happier, healthier and less stressed. Who doesn’t need more of that?

It’s easy to get started. One popular way is to start a gratitude journal. Every evening list at least five things or events that happened during the day for which you are grateful.
Sarah Ban Breathnach popularized the gratitude journal in her 1995 bestselling book, “Simple Abundance: a Daybook of Comfort and Joy.” Oprah Winfrey credits that book and her initial ten year gratitude journaling practice as instrumental to her success and happiness.

The simple act of going through your day focused on looking for positive events and feelings changes your perspective. You’ll find yourself letting go of most of the petty annoyances of the day — the small stuff that you used to dwell on — that brought up feelings of impatience, intolerance, negative judgment or resentment.

Instead you’ll be looking for the “silver lining” in situations, taking note of that fellow student offering help, a relaxing lunch with friends or a beautiful sunset on your drive home.
Numerous studies have documented a range of benefits that come with an attitude of gratitude.

Gratitude facilitates contentment and life satisfaction. It improves your mood by increasing feelings of joy, pleasure and optimism. It also reduces anxiety and depression.
Gratitude strengthens relationships. You’ll feel closer to family and friends. When you feel and express gratitude for your partner, you’ll each become more satisfied with your relationship.

Gratitude is contagious. Few of us like to be around whiners, complainers or otherwise unpleasant-to-be-around people. When you’re grateful you tend to put out positive energy and that is an irresistible attraction to most people.

Watch your language both verbal and internal; be aware of complaining and replace those negatives with positive words.

Practicing gratitude is more than a slogan or a feel good exercise — it’s a choice — a lifestyle and mindset choice that will drastically change your life and your future. It’s about deciding to see opportunities and solutions instead of roadblocks and problems.

Focusing on gratitude is a proactive way to live your life rather than passively waiting for your life to change.

As a student you’ve already made positive choices. You’re taking classes and working towards a new and different future.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily mindset will bring your success to the next level.

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Off The Shelf: The value of an attitude of gratitude