Things to Do to Become a More Thankful You

Save a place for Gratefulness


Going around the Thanksgiving table taking turns saying what we are thankful for is a great tradition, but why does it have to stop there? I remember many Thanksgivings, turning my attention inward and thinking of the things that I was thankful for. During my search for health, happiness and living a more meaningful life the same thing keeps coming up in my research. Having an attitude of gratitude on a daily bases can help me achieve many things that I want in my life.

Turning attention inward and being thankful on a daily basis is proven to contribute to boosting the immune system, better sleep, better relationships and can even help reduce stress. Huffington Post 


Here are Some Things You Can Do to Become a More Thankful You


Appreciate the Small Things

Stop and savor the delicious coffee by saying “mmmmmmm” out loud. Thank someone with a wave and a smile when they let you in front of them in traffic. Appreciate the parts of your body that feel good instead of focusing on your ills.


Be Thankful for the Big Things 

Don’t take nature for granted. We should be very thankful to our prehistoric ancestors for preserving the National Parks in our nation. People who were gone long before us fought for the preservation of these parks for future generations (us). It would have been just as easy to develop all of our land instead of preserving what they did. You do not have to plan a trip to Yellowstone National Park to appreciate the beauty of nature. Take a walk around the block and watch the birds or enjoy the sunrise. Be thankful for Mother Earth and all of the beauty that surrounds us. Find a piece of nature to be thankful for each day.

Swimming in the Blue Hole in Belize!

Swimming in the Blue Hole in Belize!

A Thankful Dialect

“I am the luckiest person” or “I am so thankful for this gorgeous weather” are examples of phrases you could say to express gratitude outwardly to become accustomed to thinking and feeling grateful. When you express yourself by using thankful words consistently, in time your new dialect can spread to others.



Thank it, Don’t Blanket

We were taught to say please and thank-you but there is something about really thanking someone for something you appreciate. Taking time to pull someone aside for a heartfelt thank-you is much more meaningful than the blanket “thanks” that you say when you ask for the salt. Being creative with your thankfulness can be a wonderful experience for both parties. Try sending a thank-you card the next time you were hosted at a party or leave a little note on your husband’s windshield thanking him for running your errands. Remember it’s not about paying someone back; it’s about letting them know how much you appreciate them.  A small gesture can go a long way.



Gratis Habit

Harvard studies conducted by Professor Shawn Achor show that people who think about and write down three things they are grateful for every day for 21 days can re-train their brain and become a more thankful person naturally. Even when things are not going your way, there are still so many things to be thankful for every single day. Seeking them out and acknowledging them can bring you a life you will be thankful for.


What I Do

For me, my Joy Journal has not only helped me learn how to be grateful on a daily basis, it has also helped pull me out of some very dark times. When I know I am going to be recording some joys (aka being thankful) I keep my eyes and my heart open to accept and receive gifts from everywhere. Joy Journaling (or a Gratitude Journal) has made me realize that I have so many simple pleasures around me every day to be thankful for. The big things just follow naturally.


The” Thankful Tree” from my friends at Imagine School











For some wonderful information on gratitude, I really enjoyed this program narrated by Susan Sarandon. Science of Gratitude Radio Special


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A Very Merry Minimalist (and how to avoid a holiday hangover)








It Was Always Just a Christmess

When we decided to live a simple life with less stuff and more meaning I forgot all about the Holidays! In the past Smiley and I would run ourselves ragged throwing very elaborate themed Christmas parties, buying the perfect gifts for family and hand making gifts for friends. We would go overboard with our gifts to each other despite our promises to scale back. Stockings were stuffed, three trees were trimmed and lights were put on the roof with care. Extensive baking, candy making, crafting and extravagant gift wrapping were also a part of the never-ending list of holiday “to do’s” as well as finding the perfect outfits for all of our gatherings. Even Bongo had a new outfit every year. CIMG6411The house would be so decorated that even the decorations were decorated. Every free moment was spent “making Christmas.” We thought the more we did, the more spirit we had. We were Christmas Maniacs! When the holidays were over we were overtired, had overspent and were over it! We would spend the next few weeks with a Holiday hangover, tearing down what we had put up, returning unwanted gifts and feeling disappointed because we did not take the time to do anything that we wanted to do like take a drive to look at the lights or see a movie. The way we spent the holidays went against our new ideas and philosophies. We love the Holidays and do not want to sacrifice the fun, however we want to incorporate our newfound lifestyle into our Holiday traditions. Here are some tips that we have tried, or plan on trying this year to keep the Holidays warm and fuzzy and not feeling cold and harried.


  1. Skipping Black Friday and Other Doorbuster Sales

Only in America do blackfriday2people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have. Black Friday sales are designed to take advantage of our insatiable desire to consume. Making the Holidays about spending money takes the real joy and love out of the season. Also many retail workers give up their holidays and most do not even get overtime for working on these days. Vowing to do something better like spending time outdoors is a great way to make a drastic change in your holiday outlook. REI is setting an example this year by closing on Black Friday and encouraging people to spend the day outside. #optoutside


  1. Choose Alternatives to Shopping

UnknownOnce you have crossed everyone off of your shopping list then you are finally free to enjoy what the holidays have to offer, right? What if you crossed shopping off your list completely? Taking the busyness out of the holidays leaves time for other things like going to a movie with a friend, taking your spouse out for a nice dinner or looking at digital photos with your friends from the vacation you took last summer. How about enjoying the nature in your own town instead of hitting that sale? Having time to savor the people in your life can actually give the Holidays the peace, love and joy that everyone is always talking about. Here are some other things that you can do instead of shopping.

  • Volunteer. Even more special if you bring a friend along.
  • Call someone on the phone that you miss and catch up.
  • Send holiday cards. Take the time to include a special note in each one.
  • Prepare a special meal.
  • Make E-cards. Some of them use real photos and are hilarious!


3.  More Uplifting Gifting

When I decided that I was going to minimize my gift giving it was difficult to stick to my guns. It feels wonderful to give and I did not want to miss out on the fun. I knew that I was ok with not receiving material things as gifts, however I did not want to seem like a humbug. I had to find ways to be creative, thoughtful and give my gift giving a facelift. Here are some suggestions for uplifting gifting.images

  • Consumables: Things you can eat, drink, or use up. This way you are sticking to your beliefs and not cluttering someone’s home. Even better if it’s home- made or healthy.
  • Your Passion: I love making natural, organic beauty products. Smiley loves making special spirits. A performance like a reading or playing an instrument is also a very personal and unexpected gift. Look inside your heart and give what you love most to others.
  • Your Time: Offer to baby sit or dog sit when your friend travels. Make a casserole or lasagna for a busy Mom. Offer to clean a house or wash a car. A date to a museum or lunch is wonderful because you can spend quality time together. Write it up in a nice card and see how well received your gift is.
  • Photographs: Print off a great photo. It may even end up on the fridge!
  • A donation to a favorite charity in your loved ones name is always a thoughtful and considerate choice.


If you must shop, shop local. You will get higher quality items and support the Mom-and-Pop shops in your neighborhood. You can also search Etsy for wonderful hand made gifts.


  1. Intend to Spend the Holidays Your Way

Be intentional in what you want to do this holiday season. Make a budget and stick with it. Spend quiet time in meditation, reading or relaxing before going out into the busy world so you will stay grounded and be able to appreciate the beauties of the season. Refuse to run yourself ragged. Say yes to the things that sound good to you and say no to the things that do not serve you anymore. Really and truly allow peace, love and joy to fill your heart and share these feelings with others. Spending time doing things you love instead of spending a fortune on things that don’t matter is a great way to start. Your loved ones will see the difference in you and you will be setting a great example for everyone around you.



Simply be together. No purchase necessary. ~ The Minimalists


You have read A Very Merry Minimalist (and how to avoid a holiday hangover) here first on Live Big and Small.  Make sure to subscribe to receive an e-mail notification for each new posting.