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As we crawl to the finish line of this year which has simultaneously been an 800-meter sprint, and a full-fledged marathon, we must remember the practice of gratitude, no matter how, where, or with whom we find ourselves this holiday season.

Gratitude is remembering each day you wake up; you are fortunate to have at least one more day to tell and or show your family and people you care about how much you love them. It’s being thankful for the privileges, comforts, and skills you don’t think of often, such as having the ability to see and read this article, perhaps from your personal computer with functional internet access in your own home.

If gratitude isn't a realm you've explored, not to worry. The following are a couple of simple practices you can adopt to can easily uplift the end of a tough day, or set your outlook for a new day ahead. If you have a dog (or know of a dog) with a seemingly endless supply of love, cuddles, and smiles, I like to think this is how they start and end each day, minus the writing and paper.

The first practice is setting an intention for the day when you wake up. This can be out loud, in your head, or on paper. Start with a word for the day depending on where you want my mindset to be such as 'optimism,' 'adventure,' knowledge' etc. Then pick a few items you're grateful for like morning coffee, a good book, or warm slippers, as well as a few aspects of yourself that you're proud of. "I'm a cheerful neighbor", "I'm a kind care provider", "I'm a great baker," etc.

If you have few extra moments, follow these statements with a couple of goals for the day; 'get outside for a walk, finish a chapter of my book, evict the dust bunnies from the living room,' and end with the final question; "how could I make today better?"

The second practice is a gratitude journal, which is as simple as it sounds. Find an old journal, notepad, or even scratch paper, and at the close of the day, list three good things that happened. They can be as simple as a phone call with gram, a nice card from a friend, a discount coupon to your favorite craft store, or even a hot shower. The important takeaway is to find the positives, no matter how small.

As with any skill or routine, you need the practice to make it a habit. The nice thing about gratitude is its first beneficiary, is you. And when you get yourself a few notches higher during the most challenging times, you may find it easier to help lift others.

Gratitude will make you happier, more resilient, and more connected to those around you. Furthermore, gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance already present. So while we edge our way towards the end of this year, let us think back on the moments which gave us hope, and strive to celebrate the positives, no matter how small.

Caitlin Douglass

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