• Dr. Jude Black

Gratitude Part I: Powerful Tips to Survive the Holidays



The hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping can be draining. Life is going at warp speed, the stress is high, the world is busy and you are flat-out tired. So, being grateful may not be on your top ten list of "to-dos". Let me ask you, during this season or even today, have you truly focused on giving gratitude for the gifts received or acknowledging all the blessings in your life?

Some days it’s hard to be grateful…especially in this season! The traffic, the chaos of the crowded stores, the long lines, the frenzy- oh my!! We focus on the “getting through the day” and forget to be grateful. Gratitude, or expressing thankfulness, isn’t just "nice", it can be powerful, too. Practicing daily gratitude not only produces more gratitude and more abundance, but it sets the tone for a joyful holiday season. Pretty amazing right? You get to choose if you are the Grinch with the tiny little heart or the Grinch with a gigormous, growing heart! Best of all, it’s free.

Gratefulness doesn’t cost anything, you just have to show up and be intentional. Practicing gratitude is about taking over the reins of your life by training your brain to look for things that are going well, instead of staying stuck in default mode and only noticing the not-so-great stuff. Integrating gratefulness into your life is crucial for good mental health.

Research shows that regularly spending just a few moments on positive thinking and gratitude can help boost happiness, lower stress, improve your health and help you build stronger relationships – all of which can come in handy during the holidays. Gratitude stimulates your neurotransmitters, the hormones that bring energy and happiness into your living experience. Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps the gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier according to UCLA's Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive, and less resistant. Now that's a really awesome way of taking care of your well-being as you go through not just the holiday season but the rest of your life.

So, how do you practice being grateful? There are endless ways and one is not better than another. If it resonates, it’s a “good” practice for you.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to increase gratitude awareness and tips to shine through the holidays!

How to Increase Gratitude Awareness

1. Ask WHO in your life — past and present — has given you love, support, encouragement, inspiration, motivation, guidance.

These people can be family, friends, teachers, mentors, or work colleagues. You carry these people around like angels on your shoulders because they are always giving you energy. Take a moment to acknowledge them and give thanks that that they are in your life. You can follow up with an email, note, text, or phone call of thanks to let them know that they matter to you. I personally love handwritten notes- the power of the written word is not to be underestimated.

2. Ask WHAT values, skills, talents, personal characteristics, beliefs, and education opportunities you utilize every day and are you grateful for.

Read more about Values

The one solid gift that I am grateful for is my ability to hear stories. These are gifts I cannot live without because it leads to other fabulous opportunities to empower, heal, adjust, inspire, and grow. You will recognize your greatest talents and gifts by reflecting on the values and beliefs that you live by and personal characteristics that you have developed. Ask yourself what gift keeps on giving for you. What gifts will truly matter in my life?

3. Ask WHERE you have been in your life that has deeply affected you intellectually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

In what ways have experiences outside your normal daily activities positively influenced your life? Perhaps travel has inspired your mind, filled your soul, and influenced how you see the world. The places you visited, the people you met, or the stories your heard, influenced your perspective of life and what matters. Take time during the holidays and reflect on how these powerful experiences have shaped who you are today.

4. Ask HOW you normally express your gratitude.

Do you express gratitude daily? And if you are not taking the time to do so, why not? It is easy to forget to say thank you because our lives are so busy and filled with "to-dos", “the shoulds” and the "musts." Make it a habit at least once a day to find a quiet place to pause and say thank you for your gifts. Reach out to friends by phone or email to say thank you to them for being in your life because they cherish you and give you support and love. Acknowledge and be grateful for your incredible intimate space.

I like to do it first thing in the morning and last thing before I fall asleep. Two things that I have found effective are:

  • Take 1 minute in the morning to get a good start to your day by finding 3 small or big things you are grateful for in your life.

  • Take 1-2 minutes each evening and use a journal to write down maybe 3 or 5 things you are grateful for about your day, about yourself or about your life.

5. Ask WHAT negative situation could be a positive in your life.

Why should you be grateful for the negative things that happen to you in life? Life isn't perfect. Bad stuff happens. But inside every negative experience is a positive experience waiting to happen. We are the authors of our lives and we are the ones to edit the narrative. Eliminating the negative self-talk you put yourself through develops stronger mental health habits. It allows you to become more accepting of everything that happens in life — the good, the bad, and the ugly. And the process of removing negativity creates the opportunity for growth and transformation.


Look for Part II: Powerful Tips to Shine Through the Holidays.


About the Author: Dr. Jude Black is the CEO & Founder of E-Therapy Cafe. She is our Story Lover, Emotional Healer, Chaos Calmer, Change Catalyst, Resiliency Ninja, & Life Expert. Dr. Black has a demonstrated track record of success both domestic and internationally as a clinician, businesswoman, and public speaker. Dr. Black has been featured in Elle Magazine, Nextgen Milspouse, MTVNews, Modern Loss, Refinery 29, and Military Times and more. In her free time she is hanging out with her family, speaking out against toxic leadership at the Pentagon, and enjoying a strong cup of coffee! To schedule a session with Dr. Black, click here.

E-Therapy Café™ is a people-focused, innovative online counseling and coaching platform for individuals, couples, families and corporations. The mission is to provide professional, convenient, and affordable, modern online therapy – anytime, anywhere for everyone. The Boutique Team of Licensed Therapists and Certified Life Coaches are passionate change catalyst, focused on realistic goals in today’s fast-paced world. The headquarters is in Northern VA with a nationwide and global reach.

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