4 Ways to Practice Gratitude This Holiday Season

    —
December 31, 2019

The holiday season can be hectic and overwhelming, with many mixed emotions, from excitement to stress. It’s the perfect time to commit to a daily practice of gratitude which will help you experience more moments of contentment and joy and give you resilience to handle the many challenges (including travel and stressful relatives). And when you share your gratitude with others, you help them feel seen, valued, elevated, and help yourself feel more closely connected to people in your life. Here are four ways to practice gratitude this holiday season. 

Say Thank You and Mean It

When you thank someone, be intentional about it and put your heart and appreciation into your words. Take a moment, pause, look them in the eye, smile, and say ‘Thank you’. If there is something specific you want to thank them for, do it, go the extra step, that’s awesome.

Daily Gratitude Bookends

Begin and end your day by writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Literally bookend your day with gratitude. If you’re not a journaling type, that’s fine—how about sharing what you’re grateful for with someone else, like a family member, friend, or co-worker—in-person or via text or email. You won’t just be practicing gratitude for yourself but inspiring them to do it also. Remember to be as specific as possible and don’t neglect really small moments.

Gratitude Zoom

If you’re feeling down or caught in a negativity spiral, pause and challenge yourself to find something you can appreciate within your experience, however small. For example, if you’re sad about being sick and missing out on what you would rather be doing, can you feel grateful that you have medicine or a comfortable place to recover or people around to help care for you?

Gratitude Antidote

When something stresses you out—too much traffic, an annoying colleague, etc.—use it as a reminder to practice gratitude. You don’t have to be grateful for whatever is stressing you out, but use it as a nudge to pause, take a breath, and think of something, however small, that you are grateful for in that moment. When you do this, you prevent your brain from going into a negativity spiral, where one annoying thought brings on another, and another, and another, until you have a really rough day.

 

Nataly Kogan is an author (Happier Now), speaker, and the founder of Happier. Her work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDx Boston, SXSW, and Dr Oz. Nataly lives with her husband and daughter in Boston. For more, visit happier.com.

 

Nataly Kogan

Nataly Kogan is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author on a mission to help millions of people cultivate their happier skills by making simple, scientifically backed practices part of their daily life. Nataly immigrated to the US as a refugee from the former Soviet Union when she was 13 years old. Starting her life in the projects and on welfare, she went on to reach the highest levels of corporate success at companies like McKinsey & Company and Microsoft. When she still found herself unfulfilled, Nataly set out to discover what really leads to a fulfilling, happier life. Her explorations led her to create Happier, a company whose award-winning mobile application, online courses, and “Happier at Work” training programs have helped more than a million people improve their emotional health.

Nataly is a sought-after keynote speaker and has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDxBoston, SXSW, The Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference, and The Dr. Oz Show. She is a self-taught abstract artist and a devoted yogi. Nataly lives with her husband Avi and daughter Mia outside of Boston, although Nataly will always be a New Yorker at heart. For more, visit happier.com.

Author photo © Jonathan Gershon Stark

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Nataly Kogan is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author on a mission to help people cultivate their “Awesome Human” skills by making simple, scientifically backed practices part of their daily lives. The author of the books Happier Now and The Awesome Human Project, she has appeared in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDxBoston, SXSW, and the Harvard Women’s Leadership Conference. In this podcast, Sounds True founder Tami Simon speaks with Nataly about how we can live in a way that enables us to thrive while we give all of our gifts. They also discuss developing the five skills of emotional fitness; the practice of “struggle awareness” when faced with a challenge; overcoming the brain’s negativity bias, and the art of “courageously talking back to our brains” with kindness and compassion; the five traits of the Awesome Human; a leader as someone who positively impacts another person’s ability to flourish; sharing your emotional “whiteboard” to support the best possible interactions with others; the concept of “surface acting” at work and how it contributes to burnout; investing in a daily check-in with yourself; the power of self-compassion and self-acceptance; self-care as the skill of fueling your emotional, mental, and physical energy; and connecting to your “bigger why.”

4 Ways to Practice Gratitude This Holiday Season

The holiday season can be hectic and overwhelming, with many mixed emotions, from excitement to stress. It’s the perfect time to commit to a daily practice of gratitude which will help you experience more moments of contentment and joy and give you resilience to handle the many challenges (including travel and stressful relatives). And when you share your gratitude with others, you help them feel seen, valued, elevated, and help yourself feel more closely connected to people in your life. Here are four ways to practice gratitude this holiday season. 

Say Thank You and Mean It

When you thank someone, be intentional about it and put your heart and appreciation into your words. Take a moment, pause, look them in the eye, smile, and say ‘Thank you’. If there is something specific you want to thank them for, do it, go the extra step, that’s awesome.

Daily Gratitude Bookends

Begin and end your day by writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Literally bookend your day with gratitude. If you’re not a journaling type, that’s fine—how about sharing what you’re grateful for with someone else, like a family member, friend, or co-worker—in-person or via text or email. You won’t just be practicing gratitude for yourself but inspiring them to do it also. Remember to be as specific as possible and don’t neglect really small moments.

Gratitude Zoom

If you’re feeling down or caught in a negativity spiral, pause and challenge yourself to find something you can appreciate within your experience, however small. For example, if you’re sad about being sick and missing out on what you would rather be doing, can you feel grateful that you have medicine or a comfortable place to recover or people around to help care for you?

Gratitude Antidote

When something stresses you out—too much traffic, an annoying colleague, etc.—use it as a reminder to practice gratitude. You don’t have to be grateful for whatever is stressing you out, but use it as a nudge to pause, take a breath, and think of something, however small, that you are grateful for in that moment. When you do this, you prevent your brain from going into a negativity spiral, where one annoying thought brings on another, and another, and another, until you have a really rough day.

 

Nataly Kogan is an author (Happier Now), speaker, and the founder of Happier. Her work has been featured in hundreds of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, TEDx Boston, SXSW, and Dr Oz. Nataly lives with her husband and daughter in Boston. For more, visit happier.com.

 

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Embracing Empathy as Your Superpower

What do I do when a loved one is suffering? How do I have empathy if I’m getting a divorce or losing my job? If my family treats me unfairly? Or if I’m emotionally overwhelmed or in chronic pain?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, I’ve written The Genius of Empathy for you. It also includes a beautiful foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In the book, I present empathy as a healing force that helps you overcome obstacles in your life with dignity, grace, and power. As a psychiatrist and empath, I draw from my insights and present techniques from my own life and from the healing journeys of my clients, students, and readers. As I say in the book, “Empathy softens the struggle, quiets the unkind voices, and lets you befriend yourself again.”

Empathy doesn’t mean being “on call” 24 hours a day for those in need. Empaths can often wear an invisible sign that says, “I can help you.” However, if you want to heal yourself, have better relationships, and contribute to healing our tumultuous world, you must learn how to set healthy boundaries and observe, not absorb, the energy of others.

To start taking a more proactive role in how much empathy you give others at any one time, I suggest that you keep in mind the following “rights.” They will help you maintain a healthy mindset and prevent or lessen any empathy overwhelm that might arise:

  • I have the right to say a loving, positive “no” or “no, thank-you.”
  • I have the right to set limits with how long I listen to people’s problems.
  • I have the right to rest and not be always available to everyone.
  • I have the right to quiet peacefulness in my home and in my heart.

Practice: Take a Sound Break to Repair Yourself

Plan periods of quiet to recover from our noisy, fast-paced world. This helps calm your nervous system and your mind, an act of self-empathy.

It’s rejuvenating to schedule at least five minutes of quiet or, even better, complete silence for an hour or more where no one can intrude. As I do, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your office or bedroom door. During this reset period, you’ve officially escaped from the world. You’re free of demands and noxious sounds. You may also get noise canceling earbuds to block out noise.

If too much quiet is unsettling, go for a walk in a local park or a peaceful neighborhood to decompress from excessive sound stimulation. Simply focus on putting one foot in front of the other, which is called mindful walking. Nothing to do. Nothing to be. Move slowly and refrain from talking. If thoughts come, keep refocusing on your breath, each inhalation and exhalation. Just letting life settle will regenerate your body and empathic heart.

Embracing your empathy does require courage. It can feel scary. If you’re ready to discover its healing power, I would be honored to be your guide to helping you in overcoming your fears and obstacles, and enhancing this essential skill for long-term change.

Though many of us have never met, I feel connected to you. Connection is what fuels life. While empathy is what allows you to find peace. With both, we can make sense of this world together.

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Ignite empathy as a superpower for personal healing, deeper relationships, and more potent work in the world. New York Times bestselling author Dr. Judith Orloff draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, and energy medicine to show us how to access our sensitivities, soothe our nervous systems, and embody our most fierce and authentic selves.

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