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Happy Thanksgiving!

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the importance of gratitude and the positive impact it can have on our mental health. Being thankful goes beyond a simple expression of appreciation; it is a mindset that can shape our outlook on life and bring about transformative changes. There are so many things in our lives to be grateful for, and it’s important that we take time this holiday season to reflect on that.

Gratitude is about recognizing and acknowledging the blessings, big and small, that we encounter in our daily lives. This can even be as small as being grateful for the fact that you woke up today. It is a conscious choice to shift our focus from what may be lacking to what we have been given, as often the brain sees the glass as half empty automatically. But by cultivating a grateful attitude with intention, we open ourselves up to a world of greater contentment and joy.

When faced with challenges or difficult circumstances, it can be difficult to find the positives. However, it is during these times that gratitude can have the most profound impact. Approaching difficult situations with gratitude can help us focus on the lesson we are learning and the strength we are gaining during these difficult times. In turn, this can help us find solace and meaning in these situations. Making the mental shift to your approach to difficult situations can be a part of a long-term solution.

Here are some simple practices to help foster gratitude this holiday season:

  1. Keep a gratitude log. Take a few minutes each day to write down three things you are grateful for. These can be people, things, or even experiences.
  2. Express appreciation to others. Reach out to the people who have made a positive impact on your life and let them know how grateful you are for their presence or actions. A great holiday gift to someone could be a letter of appreciation for the positivity they have brought to your life.
  3. Find beauty in the ordinary. Take a moment to appreciate the simple pleasures around you, whether it’s a warm cup of your favorite tea or a beautiful sunset. One of my favorite things to do is to take pictures of anything that makes me even the slightest bit happy, not to post anywhere, but just to have for myself.
  4. Start incorporating gratefulness in your daily conversations. Start mentioning things you love, fun experiences you had, and the things in your life that you’re grateful for in conversations throughout the day. It’s easy to connect with people through complaining and negativity, so be the change! Start talking about all the things that are good in the world and see how much of an impact that has on the people around you.

As we gather with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember that gratitude is not meant to be limited to a single day or season. It is a way of life—a continuous practice that has profound effects on our well-being. By expressing gratitude for what we already have, we can find peace, positivity, and fulfillment in our journey. Gratitude is a gift we give ourselves and others-and best of all, it’s free!

Ashlee Zaragoza, Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation

Ashlee Zaragoza is an Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Leadership from UNO in December of 2022. Ashlee has previous experience in leadership, management, hospitality and training development. Ashlee’s life experiences and passion for suicide prevention and mental health advocacy brought her to The Kim Foundation as a volunteer in May 2023. Ashlee’s passion for people has driven her into this role where she will be a supportive resource and compassionate voice for those affected by suicide and mental health. She currently focuses on outreach through presentations, events, and community initiatives.