Is gratitude something that we feel, or is it something that we do? I think it’s both – although we usually think of it as a natural response to good things happening, we can also make a choice to feel it throughout the day, every day. And the thing that I’ve been noticing in my own life is that the more I practice a heart filled with thankfulness, the more gifts and blessings seem to magically pop up around me. Gratitude almost always gives birth to more gratitude as our eyes are opened to the beauty around us that we easily overlooked before. So on this Christmas Eve, as I wrap the last few presents to place under the tree, I’m choosing to receive the gift of gratitude by slowing down, opening my eyes to what’s all around me and becoming more aware — which I’ve also noticed seems to be the best antidote to stress and worry. There’s something about counting my blessings that puts everything in perspective and calms my mind when it’s racing with anxious thoughts. And there’s no doubt that writing it down makes me more mindful of the simple gifts that bring me joy – from the big to the ordinary.

At the top of my list this Christmas, I want to cultivate more of a sense of gratitude for NOW. As Phoebe races through toddlerhood and we somehow already have our second on the way, it once again surprises me how quickly time slips away. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rush of life with its endless to-do’s that so stealthily steal my attention, and when I’m always focused on the next thing, I miss the beauty of what’s right in front of me. Now is the time to pause, enter into the moment and whisper a prayer of thanksgiving for our friendships, our health, the wonder of nature, and so many other gifts that are often taken for granted.

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Homeand in it, she brings up the idea that we’re not really happy unless we think we’re happy. Along those same lines, I think that when we have a heart overflowing with gratitude, especially in the little things, we immediately become richer in love and laughter and joy. In this new year, I want to cultivate a habit that makes gratitude the norm, rather than something that’s saved for Thanksgiving. Do you guys have a practice that helps you find beauty and joy in the everyday experience? I’d love to hear about it in the comments, and merry merry to all of you — hope you have a wonderful little break and savor this time to be with people you love!

*photo credit: the white company via this is glamorous, white hot chocolate by borrowed-light.

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