5 Ways Gratitude Brings Balance and Grace to Your Life

If you’ve ever told yourself anything like, “I need to exercise more” or “I wish I could stop the negative chatter in my head” but you’ve never quite accomplished either, have I got a smart and simple solution for you! Gratitude.

Yep, scientists have proven that gratitude can have measurable effects on our overall wellbeing and very specific benefits to our physical and mental health.

This is the perfect time to start (or refresh) a habit of gratitude: a daily practice of words and deeds that generate a sense of goodness our lives. With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of weeks away, giving thanks is naturally on our minds. But more than that, the holiday season is for many of us a stressful, non-stop time, while others may experience bouts of seasonal depression or anxiety.

Gratitude to the rescue!

Research proves that professing and feeling gratitude improves one’s emotional state, life experiences, health and relationships. The word comes from the Latin gratia (grace, favor, goodwill). So practicing gratitude literally brings grace into our lives. It helps us connect to something outside of ourselves—whether it’s other people, nature, or a higher power.

Without going all science-y on you, here are five surprising benefits that gratitude brings to your life and your health.

 1. Grateful people exercise more, have fewer aches and pains and generally feel healthier than other people.

In a study by noted gratitude expert Dr. Robert A. Emmons, participants were asked to write just a few sentences a week about things they were grateful for. Another group wrote about things that annoyed or irritated them, and a third group wrote about events in their life (not specifically positive or negative). Participants that focused on gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives compared to the group that focused on irritations.

 2. Practicing gratitude can decrease a range of negative feelings, from regret and resentment to envy and frustration.

 3. You’ll sleep better. Spending just 15 minutes a night before bedtime writing in a gratitude journal was shown to improve sleep in a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. It makes sense if that’s the last thing your brain is thinking about, instead of a news program of the latest doomsday headlines, sports, or a movie.

 4. Gratitude can reduce aggression and increases empathy and compassion, according to a study by the University of Kentucky in 2012. Those who ranked higher on gratitude scales exhibited greater sensitivity and empathy toward others, even when given negative feedback, as well as a reduced desire to seek revenge.

 5. Gratitude can actually boost your immune system! By promoting feelings of optimism, being thankful stimulates the production of red blood cells which in turns boosts our immunity to disease.

All of these benefits are great, but like any practice the question is, how do you start and more importantly, stick with it? The good news is, there are a lot of simple and practical ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life and routine. What’s important is the intention to feel gratitude for someone or something, and to express it in some way.

One of the easiest ways is to cultivate a habit of writing a thank-you note a week to someone who has done you a good turn or provided a great service. My friend Dawn Mena has five ways to write thank you’s that will create raving fans. What a great start!

For more ways to experience the everyday grace of gratitude, I’ve put together 20 simple ways to practice gratitude. It’s surprisingly easy to make thankfulness a part of your daily life and routine and reap all those benefits!

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Why not just try and see what happens when you experience and express gratitude? What have you got to lose?

I’d love to hear your results and what effects you see in your life and wellbeing with a gratitude practice. Share your experiences on the Facebook page—and thank you in advance!

Featured image (c) 2013 Shay Cochrane

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Gratitude: It’s Just Good for You!

Gift of Gratitude

There is so much in the world to be upset about right now. Truly, deeply, justifiably upset about. And I  believe there is just as much to be thankful for. Truly, deeply, wildly thankful for.

I bet if you stopped and took a nanosecond to think about it, you’d come up with at least 100 things in your life you’re grateful for.

Personally I find that practicing gratitude makes me feel better. Whether it’s finding a penny in a parking lot and lifting my eyes to the sky and saying, “Thank you!” or commenting on someone’s social media post that impacted me, or a thousand other situations large and small–expressing the feeling is a gift to myself and the other person.

Today I’d like to share two resources with you. The first is a worthy cause that is helping children in Guatemala by showcasing some of their precious artwork on a series of thank-you note cards. Check out their Indiegogo campaign at www.SayItWithGratitude.com. Founder Scott Colby says on the site that his research into the powerful and positive effects of gratitude on us as humans is what convinced him to share this knowledge with the world. Please hop over and pick up one of his packages–you can write your first thank-you note to yourself for doing something good for yourself and others.

The second resource is my new Kindle version of “101 Ways to Say Thank You.” I wrote the book a few years ago and recently decided to share it more widely with the world. I’m happy and humbled to say in the first day on the market, it was the #1 Hot New Release in etiquette books on amazon.com!

In it you’ll find a well-phrased “thank you” for 18 of life’s occasions and situations (from getting married to getting a ride to the airport) and more than 70 specific gift items. I also included ten common business thank-you letters as a bonus. It’s available this month only for a promotional price of 99 cents. You will never be at a loss for sincere words of appreciation and gratitude again.

Between note cards for a great cause and 101 thank you’s, you’ll be all set to begin your own personal journey of gratitude. Sounds like a great way to start the fall holiday season to me!

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Out of the Basket Easter Ideas

Here’s a complete list of the products shown on Wake Up with the CW on March 24, 2016.

FOR KIDS

This basket is full of fun and flavorful (and healthier) alternatives to chocolate rabbits and sugary marshmallow chicks.

AquaballAquaballs

  • Sugar-free, naturally flavored water
  • A healthy alternative to sugary sodas and drinks
  • Available in four flavors, Fruit Punch, Orange, Berry Frost and Grape,
  • Features fan favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen, Disney Princesses, Marvel Avengers, and Disney Classic Characters.
  • ($1-$1.19/bottle)

Bauli Chocolate Mini CroissantsChoc

  • Looking to fill Easter baskets with something other than candy?
  • 50 calories a pop, they’re the perfect, guilt-free basket filler
  • Made in a REAL oven with no preservatives and naturally leavened dough
  • Available at select retailers for $1.99/2.64 oz bag (6 mini croissants per bag).

 

 

Viki’s GranolaVikis Granola

  • Replace the sugary treats that often come in Easter baskets with delicious snacks kids will love
  • Great tasting, GLUTEN-FREE, and made with 100% ALL NATURAL ingredients
  • Available in Original, Blueberry Almond, Maple Cranberry, (NEW!) Banana Walnut & (NEW!) Apple Cinnamon.
  • Available at retailers nationwide and online at VikisFoods.com

Welch’s® Fruit SnacksWelchs

  • Perfect for Easter Baskets and stuffing eggs.
  • Custom Easter-themed graphics with fun shapes which include a Chick, Egg, Flower and Bunny
  • Every pack is made with REAL Fruit, is Fat Free, Gluten Free, and contains No Preservatives

 

 

FOR THE FOODIE

This basket is perfect for the foodie in your life who loves to cook and enjoys delicious foods.

Veestro Veestro

  • Tired of cooking or love to cook, but don’t have the time with all the hustle and bustle of everyday life and events?
  • All-natural, preservative-free food, packed with nutrients and high in protein and fiber.
  • Virtually no prep time! Meals are fully cooked, ready to heat-and-eat when you are, shipped frozen, and able to last in your freezer for up to 8 weeks.
  • Visit Veestro.com for more info

T-fal OptiCook Non-Stick Skillet Tfal pan

  • Foodies love this non-stick fry pan by T-fal
  • With Thermospot technology, your meal will be cooked to perfection every time
  • The Thermospot indicates when the pan is perfectly preheated to seal in flavor and prevents burning
  • T-fal’s Non-Stick skillet makes the cleanup even easier, to ensure more time spent with your friends and family!
  • To learn more, visit tfalusa.com

Explore Cuisine Chickpea Fusilli Explore pasta

  • Perfect for the pasta-lover in your life!
  • Healthy alternative to white pasta with a soft, supple texture and mild taste
  • In just one serving, Chickpea Fusilli has:
    • 11 grams of protein
    • 5 grams of fiber
    • 15% of your daily recommended iron intake
  • Vegan, certified gluten-free, non-GMO, made with organic ingredients
  • Available at supermarkets nationwide for $4.99

Omega – Fresh Juice and Healthful Recipes CookbookOmega Juices

  • Carefully handpicked and arranged
  • Comes with a remarkable assortment of recipes
  • Make a variety of fresh fruit juices, vegetable and green drinks, a medley of smoothie sorbets, creamy nut milks and nut butters, dips and purees, and many more practical and delicious recipes.
  • $14.99 at http://www.omegajuicers.com/books/a-juice-boost-274.html

 

 

FOR THE ADULT

Make sure to spoil your loved ones with an Easter basket full of relaxing and rejuvenating products.  

Coyuchi  Women’s Sateen Terry Robe Coyuchi Robe

  • Perfect addition for a relaxing Easter morning
  • Available in Alpine White and Pale Gray
  • Robe lined with velvety micro terry, it’s soft, absorbent and cozy
  • Retails for $128; Coyuchi can be found at fine retailers across the US and Canada, as well as available for purchase online at coyuchi.com

 

Hotel Collection Ultimate Micro Cotton Bath Towels Macys Towels

  • Add these high-quality, ring spun cotton towels for the ultimate spa basket
  • Durable and ultra-absorbent
  • Extra-soft and plush feel
  • Available exclusively at Macy’s; $31 per bath towel

 

 

Santa Margherita Prosecco SuperioreSanta M Prosecco

  • Celebrate Easter with Santa Margherita’s Prosecco Superiore
  • Perfect base for a variety of bubbly cocktails at your Easter brunch such as mimosas or bellinis.
  • Additional brand varietals include Pinot Grigio Alto Adige and Chianti Classico Riserva ($17.99-26.99)

 

 

 

 

 

Merle Norman Revitalizing Bubbly MaskMN Mask

  • With soft towels at your feet, a warm robe wrapped around your body and a glass of wine in hand, be sure to treat yourself even more with this sensational mask
  • Brightening bubbles recharge skin and take dull to dazzling with this new multi-sensory formula that transforms from a gel to a foam while on the face.
  • $30; Merle Norman Studios MerleNorman.com

 

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Easter 101: Baskets, Decor and More

Easter rabbit on fresh green grass

Easter is almost here! And that means, baskets to be assembled, tables to be set, and spring cleaning to be tackled.

 

iphone april 2012 053No basket? No problem! Get tips for alternatives to a plain ‘ol wicket basket that adds to the gifty-ness of this year’s Easter treasures. And some non-candy gift ideas, too!

 

 

 

 

Powder and basket 018Basket brush-up: Once you’ve got that basket (or non-basket!) use these principles and tips to create professional-looking gift baskets.

 

 

 

 

Easter centerpiece collageTable time: Need a quick and cheap centerpiece! Try this $12 idea!

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow TulipsFlower power: Keep spring flowers fresh as a daisy with these pro tips.

 

 

 

 

 

March 2014 030Last minute decor: Add a splash of color to your Easter festivities with scarves!

 

 

 

 

 

(c) Africa Studio/Fotolia

Clean it up: Get tips on spring cleaning, although maybe just a tidying up before Easter. It’s early this year after all, and nobody’s going to see the garage. I hope.

 

 

 

 

Need more inspiration? Browse all my Easter articles here for bits of history and even some extravagance.

Rabbit photo copyright levranii/Fotolia.com.

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Dorm Checklist Tops Pin List

Recently I participated in Dawn Mena’s Captivating Copy Blog Summer Camp to get fresh ideas for blog articles. One of her tips included a recap of most popular articles. I’m using that tip for this look back at my top five most pinned and repinned original non-holiday ideas in the last year.  (Stayed tuned for Halloween pins next month!)

 

#1 College Dorm Checklist

 

Dorm life checklist

 

When my nephew Mitchell graduated high school last year, I came up with a “college dorm checklist” to include with his gift. My brother was impressed with the checklist and encouraged me to post it online. (Click the image above to download the pdf.)

Lo and behold, as of this writing, the checklist has been pinned more than 1,000 times from this blog! On Pinterest, the pin has been been repinned 19 times, and liked 2 times. It is by far my most popular offering. Who knew?

 

#2 College Survival Kit

 Dining and labor 083

 

Continuing the college theme, the College Survival Kit gift bag idea has been pinned 65 times from this blog, repinned 77 times on Pinterest and liked 18 times. It’s hard to find a camo gift bag, but the graphic I designed is easy to print and adhere to any gift bag for a similar look.

 

#3  Summer Fruit Salsa

 Memorial day 023

 

This is one of my yummiest pins so far … a light and easy summer fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. Pinners are eating it up, posting it 47 times from this blog and repinning it another 37 times. Three have liked it. (Note for Pinterest users: The “like” button is a great way to save ideas without adding them to a particular board.)

 

#4  Baby Shower Gift Wrap

 

Embellished gift 020

 

Rounding out the top five are a couple of gift giving solutions. The first is a simple embellishment idea that people seem to like for baby showers: tie a rattle on the gift with the bow. Easy and fun! It’s been pinned four times from this blog, repinned 12 times and liked once.

 

 #5 How to Make a Gift Basket

 

Powder and basket 014

 

Gift baskets are a great way to give a lot of small or theme-related gifts at once. A few simple guidelines ensure anyone can put together a gift collage like a pro. This article has been pinned seven times from the blog, and repinned 11 times and liked once.

 ***

It was fun to revisit these blasts from the past, and it inspired me to add to my Gift Giving Solutions board for August birthdays, too. Be sure to check it out if you need any gifts in the next month.

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November Birthday Gifts Made Easy

©racamani - Fotolia.com

©racamani – Fotolia.com

As the temperature cools down, November gifts keep things warm with rich gold and amber tones in its associated flower and gemstones.

 

Inspiration: Floral

The flower of the month is the chrysanthemum, which comes in no less than 40 species, 13 different bloom forms and literally hundreds of varietals. Its colors range from white to purple, with yellow and gold being the most recognizable this time of year. Indeed “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower).

Chrysanthemums have been cultivated in China since at least the 15th century BC as an herb. They entered American gardens in the late 18th century when a dark purple variety was imported from England.

To celebrate the chrysanthemum and honor your November recipient, consider the Autumn Romance Bouquet from Teleflora. This bouquet features two types of chrysanthemums with peach roses and seeded eucalyptus. (3 sizes starting at $49.95; Teleflora.com)

 

Inspiration: Gems

November bears the distinction of having two gemstones traditionally associated with it. Both topaz and citrine claim November as their signature month, according to the American Gem Society (http://www.americangemsociety.org/november-birthstones). The amber brown variety of citrine is often carelessly referred to as “topaz” so this could account for the dual gemstone.

Personally, I associate citrine with November because of its golden hues, from pale yellow to deep ambers. Citrine is a relatively inexpensive gemstone from the quartz family, and is widely available in all sizes. For an almost dizzying array of citrine gemstone jewelry at every price point, head over to Ross-Simons (www.ross-simons.com).

For about $40, you could pick up a luxe-looking torsade necklace with strands and strands of yellow citrine.   I love citrine set in 14k yellow gold (they just seem made for each other), and these dangle earrings feature 14 carats of citrine with diamond accents. ($371.25)

 

Inspiration: Color

If neither jewelry nor flowers are your style, you can still take inspiration from their color cues when looking for the perfect gift. Caramels, golds, warm browns and ambers are just the ticket.

For example, iridescent glass hurricane candle holders cast a lovely glow. (3 sizes, $34 to $69; www.westelm.com) Complete the look with amber pillar candles.

A leather wristlet in a caramel tone is perfect for keeping a phone, cash, cards and an ID while on the go. ($55; www.macys.com)

Stay on your recipient’s mind when you slip a photo into this frame encrusted with glass gems that beautifully mimic citrine. Dazzling! ($22.95 at Pier 1)

Wrap up your recipient in a classic camel-colored cashmere muffler, or cashmere-lined brown leather gloves.

Finally, consider body products in warm and luxurious scents like Cashmere Glow, Aspen Caramel Woods, Sensual Amber, or for him—Dark Amber (various price points, Bath and Body Works, www.bathandbodyworks.com).

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