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Go out and look at the stars

Posted: December 2, 2015 - 1:01am
Alger  Kylie Alger
Kylie Alger
Alger

Emerson is sharing his perception of a human trait – man’s ability to take things for granted. I felt a little twinge of guilt as I read this quote. I have been too busy complaining about the short days and haven’t taken advantage of the darkness to look up and thank God that I am alive to see the stars. Unfortunately, we can become so accustomed to our blessings that we lose our sense of gratitude. But it doesn’t have to be this way. After reading this quote, I felt inspired to go out and look at the stars. “Thank you, thank you, thank you for the beauty of these stars,” I repeated. And I couldn’t help but smile. I felt connected, grateful and happy. All these emotions just from star-gazing.

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving – a holiday devoted to expressing gratitude. Just as we made the decision to be thankful for our amazing family, friends, freedom and gifts, we can choose to be thankful today and every day for the beautiful “stars” in our life. The stars in your life that you see every day, but perhaps don’t verbally thank, could be your parents, spouse, family, friends, co-workers or pets. You can feel joy from acknowledging everyday things: the way your coffee smells in the morning, a reliable car to get to work or a home that has running water and heat. Being thankful is a choice – and evidence suggests that when we actively choose to practice gratitude- our overall happiness increases.

For example, researchers in a 2003 study randomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the study found that the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the other groups. Success, health, love and relationships grow stronger when we express or acknowledge feelings of gratitude. When you take the time to appreciate the good things in your life, you will begin to notice additional blessings to be thankful for. If you find yourself complaining about daily tasks, then you will probably find more things that irritate or annoy you throughout the day. When I was younger, if I were to complain to my mom about not wanting to go to soccer practice, my mom would say, “Maybe instead of complaining about running, you can thank God today for legs that work and a body that can move.”

As a follow-up from Thanks­giving, how about a “Gratitude Walk” to keep the positive energy flowing. You can make it a game – how many things will you spot or come up with during your walk that you can be thankful for? Starting with being thankful for legs that work.

Kylie Alger is a health and wellness coach, co-owner of The WellWoman: Body, Mind & Spirit, and has a degree in exercise science.

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