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Cultivating Gratitude After a Difficult Year

Noticing life's beauties in the midst of hardship to enter 2018 with a balanced perspective

Although Thanksgiving is a holiday shrouded by controversy, November is still a month of gratitude. As the year begins to close, we have time to look back on our experiences over the past 10 months and reflect. We can notice the hardships we survived, the triumphs we reached, and the great changes we brought into our life. Even if it was a tough year, there is so much to be grateful for.

If you struggle to believe in gratitude, try this. It will help you feel more worthy, more accomplished, and give you the chance to reflect on this past year with optimistic eyes. It’s a type of gratitude that can exist no matter how difficult your past year was.

At the end of each day, for the next week, write down a list of at least five things you are grateful for about yourself. Focus on the gifts you bring this world and how you let them shine. It could be gratitude for getting up in the morning. It could be gratitude that you choose to keep going. It could be gratitude that you fed yourself today. Write down your accomplishments, small or large. Everything is significant, everything matters.

Focus on why you are a necessary part of this planet’s story, too. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge gratitude for who you are and how you contribute to this world. You may journal about how you smiled at a stranger, perhaps uplifting their day. Or how your choice to keep going has allowed you to walk one step closer to your life’s purpose.

Nothing you do is too small to be grateful for. It’s in the little beauties you can see just how important of a person you are. When you notice these, your life feels more balanced. Gratitude becomes the foundation of your mindset—it replaces hardship, pain, and stress.

There is so much within you to be grateful for. Be willing to celebrate yourself this month. Be willing to reflect and be willing to love. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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